PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A jury on Tuesday convicted an Oregon man wearing a hat with white supremacist symbols of murder, a hate crime and hit-and-run in the death of a black teenager, who was run down in suburban Portland after an altercation in a convenience store parking lot.
Prosecutors argued Russell Courtier was motivated by white supremacist beliefs in killing 19-year-old Larnell Bruce Jr.
The jury deliberated for a little more than a day following an eight-day trial.
As family members left the courthouse after Multnomah County Circuit Judge Jerry Hodson read the verdict, a few said they thought justice had been served, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported .
Christina Miles, Bruce’s mother, was overcome with tears. “I’m so happy,” she said.
Defense attorneys Kevin Sali and John Robb contended that Bruce suddenly started punching and beating Courtier unprovoked on the night of Aug. 10, 2016, after Courtier drove up to a 7-Eleven in Gresham, Oregon, with his fiancée.
The defense said Courtier, 40, has had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder since childhood and suffered a concussion or brain injury during the beating, causing him to react impulsively and without thinking clearly by getting in his Jeep and fatally striking Bruce.
Prosecutor David Hannon said there was no evidence that Bruce started the fight. Video shows Bruce peacefully standing outside the store when Courtier drove up and parked, then suddenly a fight began, the prosecutor said. Bruce was leaving the area when Courtier got into a Jeep and started driving toward him and onto a sidewalk, striking him while Bruce tried to get away, Hannon said. Bruce died three days later.
Hannon said he couldn’t say what the fight at the convenience store was about, but noted that Bruce was black and Courtier is white. He also noted that Courtier joined a racist white prison gang, European Kindred, in 2003 or 2004 and had the gang’s initials and shield logo tattooed onto his leg.
Hannon played a video for jurors in which Courtier said the N-word while in a police interview room. He also said there was no evidence in medical records that Courtier suffered a concussion or brain injury during the fight.
Courtier’s girlfriend, Colleen Hunt, pleaded guilty to manslaughter last week. Witnesses said they heard Hunt egg on Courtier from the passenger seat of the SUV, yelling “”Get him, baby!” and “Run him over!”
She has agreed to be sentenced to 10 years in prison at a later date.
A sentencing date for Courtier has not yet been set.
Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com