Jury finds man guilty of murder in 2016 Gresham hate crime trial
PORTLAND, Ore. – A jury found a man guilty of intentionally running over and killing a black teenager in 2016. Authorities designated 19-year-old Larnell Bruce Jr.’s death a hate crime.
Following a trial, a jury found Russell Courtier guilty of murder, failure to perform the duties of a driver (or hit-and-run), and second-degree intimidation.
Police say Courtier was driving a Jeep Wrangler when he ran over Bruce. Bruce was hospitalized and later died of his injuries.
According to police, the incident began with a fight outside a 7-Eleven on 188th Avenue and Burnside Street in Gresham on Aug. 10, 2016. Witnesses said someone pulled out some kind of weapon before Bruce ran away from a driver behind the wheel of a red Jeep Wrangler.
Courtier and his girlfriend, 37-year-old Colleen Hunt, were charged with Bruce's death as well as first-degree intimidation -- a hate crime in Oregon.
On Wednesday, March 13, 2019, Hunt pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter. Hunt is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, March 19.
Authorities later learned that Courtier is a white supremacist after he confessed to prison guards he had ties to the white supremacist group "The European Kindred." Courtier was disciplined for getting an "EK" tattoo while in prison.
In the opening statements of the trial, David Hannon, a Multnomah County prosecutor showed jurors video of Courtier using racial slurs before being interrogated by police.
The defense pointed to parts of the surveillance video from the 7-Eleven which show Bruce grabbing a knife as Courtier pulled into the parking lot. Courtier's attorney tried to paint Bruce as an aggressive person, strong in stature, who was gearing up for a fight before any argument even began.
Bruce’s father told KATU News he was visiting his biological mother in Gresham when he was killed. Bruce Jr. lived in Vancouver at the time of his death.
A friend of Bruce's took the stand saying she witnessed the fight between Courtier and Bruce. She says multiple punches were thrown by both men, but Bruce got the better of Courtier.
A point of contention between the witness and the defense was whether Hunt, Courtier's girlfriend, encouraged him to run Hunt over on their way out of the parking lot.