Train stabbing suspect lawyers say death penalty not option

(Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive,

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Defense attorneys for a man accused of aggravated murder in the slaying of two strangers on a Portland light-rail train are asking a judge to dismiss the death penalty murder charges against him.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the attorneys say under a new law passed by the state Legislature that went into effect Sunday, Jeremy Christian can no longer be tried for aggravated murder. They say therefore he is no longer eligible for the death penalty if he’s found guilty.

The new law has narrowed the definition of aggravated murder, which is the only crime in Oregon that can draw a death sentence.

Christian’s attorneys say prosecutors could choose to pursue him under the newly created charge of first-degree murder.

Christian is accused of spewing hate speech at black teens on the train, and then stabbing three men who intervened in 2017.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Brent Weisberg says they are working on next steps.