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Suspect in beating of Redmond motel owner charged with hate crimes

(Update: Adding video and AP interview with victim's husband)

DA: Charges made possible by revised bias crime law

REDMOND, Ore. (AP) — A man was charged with attempted murder and hate crimes after breaking into a motel office and attacking a 70-year-old immigrant from India who owns the business with her husband, also an immigrant, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Meena Puri remained in the hospital with injuries to her throat, a broken shoulder and black eye after the Dec. 31 attack in Redmond, her husband Satish Puri said.

“Our life has changed forever,” he said. “We’re not going to be in the motel business running it ourselves now, and she’s not going to be coming back to this place, ever, because she’s so scared now.”

James Lamb, 53, of Eugene was charged by a grand jury with attempted murder, two counts of a bias crime, assault , burglary, strangulation, menacing and criminal mischief, the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office said.

His court-assigned public defender was not immediately available for comment. Lamb was grinning broadly in his jail booking photo.

Satish Puri said Lamb, who was staying at the Hub Motel, had come to the night window at the office to ask to use the telephone for a long-distance call.

Meena Puri told him he should come back at 8 a.m. when the office opened, at which point Lamb grabbed her hair through the night window and used a large ashtray to smash down the office door, enter the office and attack her, Satish Puri said.

“He’s a big guy; she’s a puny, little 70-year-old,” Puri said.

District Attorney John Hummel said Meena Puri provided heroic testimony to the grand jury from her hospital bed.

“Too many people in Oregon are silenced by intimidation and violence because of how they look, who they love, or to whom they pray,” Hummel said.

His office says the bias counts stem from statements by Lamb regarding Meena Puri being from India “and his expressed desire to rid America of people like her.”

Satish Puri said he and his wife are U.S. citizens and have been in America for decades,

“We love this country.” he said.

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Follow Andrew Selsky on Twitter at https://twitter.com/andrewselsky

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Earlier info, including Deschutes County DA's news release:

A Deschutes County grand jury indicted a 53-year-old Eugene man Monday on attempted murder, hate crime and other charges in a New Year’s Eve assault on the owner of a Redmond motel, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel announced Tuesday. 

James Lamb was a guest at the Hub Motel when police said he broke into the manager’s office and attacked the motel’s 70-year-old owner. She suffered broken bones and remains in the hospital, Hummel said, but is expected to survive. 

Specifically, the grand jury charged Lamb with one count of second-degree attempted murder, two counts of first-degree bias crime and one count each of second-degree assault, second-degree burglary, second-degree strangulation, menacing and second-degree criminal mischief.

"The grand jury charged Mr. Lamb with bias crimes based on his statements regarding the victim’s country of origin being India and his expressed desire to rid America of people like her," Hummel said.

Indicting Lamb on bias charges was made possible by Oregon’s revised “hate crime” law, passed last year by the state Legislature, the DA noted. 

"Mr. Lamb acted alone during this unprovoked assault," Hummel said. "Oregon’s revised hate crime law allows a felony hate crime to be charged when a defendant acts alone to harm another because of that person’s race, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability or national origin."

Previously, he said, "felony charges were only authorized if two or more people harmed another, based on these motivations."

Statement from Hummel:

“The victim of this unprovoked assault provided heroic testimony to the grand jury from her hospital bed. Too many people in Oregon are silenced by intimidation and violence because of how they look, who they love, or to whom they pray.  Because of this woman’s strength, and because the Oregon Legislature passed a law last year to strengthen Oregon’s hate crime law, justice will be delivered in this case.  Hate is not tolerated in Deschutes County.”     

As is customary, Hummel noted that "Mr. Lamb is presumed innocent and has the right to contest the allegations against him in front of a judge or jury."  Lamb remained jailed Tuesday, held on $50,000 bail; his next court hearing is scheduled for Friday at 1:30 p.m.

Central Oregon / Crime And Courts / Redmond / Top Stories

The Associated Press

KTVZ news sources

Comments

36 Comments

  1. Crime is crime. “Hate crime” laws are there to enforce thought crimes. If they were enforced logically the people who spew non stop hate for Trump and his supporters would all be locked up.

    1. There is a big idiot about hating someone because they were a idiot and attacking a older women because of her race or religion. Of course if all of the non stop hate towards trump and his supporters caused people to be locked up, he never would have been elected because all of his supporters would have been in jail for their 8 years of hate towards President Obama.

      1. still rather amazed that y’all have been talked into believing yourselves victims of other’s mistreatment. Your list of imagined enemies is endless and y’all still can’t get over that the American public actually chose the previous president – do you actually believe this stuff? why?

    2. lovely – in addition to being a drunk, clueless idiot who would beat on a woman, he is one of those delusional “i hate them because they are not like me” types – hard to believe that someone would rail against a federal law against such behavior, unless that person is a privileged member of the master race, that is.

    3. There is some truth in what you’re saying. I too think people who are still Trump supporters today are born that way. It’s like conversion therapy for gay people, trying to get someone to stop loving Trump by now isn’t possible. The followers can’t help how they act. So yes, people need to stop picking on Cult 45 because they have no power in themselves to stop following the guy. Trump lovers should in fact be protected just like gays and other minorities. There is ample proof that being a Trumplover isn’t a choice simply made by his followers. They’re born that way.

      1. I’m not one to call names, but non-deplorable is an idiot. Is this guy wearing a red MAGA hat in another picture I missed? From Eugene, very liberal area, could be a democrat, you don’t know.

      1. no – he just fits the profile of the ones already pardoned – remember Trump is not America, and Republican or Democrat is not a religion, regardless of how you treat them (and people are just people, not either your allies or your enemies) – you can exhale, you are safe

  2. I’d be willing to bet he did not attack her because of her race. He attacked her because he was mad that he couldn’t use the phone. I’d bet alcohol and or other drugs were used and had an influence on his testimony y as well. He most likely would have done the same thing had anyone else been behind the window. Normally the story contains some of the individuals previous run ins with the law. Doubt this is his first. I’d sentence him to cleaning all the hotel rooms for 10 years and pay for a guard to watch him as he does it. Make him wear a GPS and stay in his
    house when he’s done.

    1. you would be willing to bet… (fill in the blank) – well, that’s that, since you fancy yourself some manner of expert on the psyche of drunken louts who beat on elderly women – good on you, expert

      – not that this will mean anything to you, but “race” is a human construct, having no basis in empirical realty – kind of like stupid, bigoted behavior, and the denial of it

    1. The hate crime charge will get thrown out. I have 0 faith in the justice system. Although I did love the outcome of the trial of those in the Burns standoff. Hard to believe there were that many people in Portland with common sense. The outcome was good except for the cops who murdered Finicum should be on death row. Now there was a hate crime.

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