(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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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.