Man charged with hate crime for allegedly beating Indian motel owner

He was charged with attempted murder, as well as two counts of a bias crime.

An Oregon man has been charged with attempted murder and hate crimes for allegedly attacking an Indian immigrant due to her ethnicity, leaving her with a broken shoulder and various other injuries.

James Lamb, 53, was charged with attempted murder, two counts of a bias crime, assault, burglary, strangulation, menacing and criminal mischief, for allegedly breaking into the motel office where 70-year-old Meena Puri worked and beating her severely, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Lamb was staying at the Hub Motel in Redmond, co-owned by Puri and her husband, when he allegedly attacked her on New Year's Eve, leaving her with injuries to her throat, a broken shoulder and a black eye, prosecutors said.

He was indicted on hate crime charges early this week in light of comments he made about Puri's nationality. He allegedly made derogatory statements regarding the woman's country of origin and expressed a desire to rid America of people like her, according to the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office.

"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," Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said in a statement.

He said the charges were made possible by a recently revised bias crime law in the state that allows a felony hate crime to be charged even if a defendant acts alone.

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

"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," Hummel said. "Hate is not tolerated in Deschutes County."

Lamb, who was seen smiling in his booking photo, is scheduled to appear in court on Friday. It's unclear if he has retained an attorney.

Puri was still hospitalized as of Wednesday. Her husband, Satish Puri, said she's afraid to return to motel now.

"Our life has changed forever," Satish Puri told The Associated Press Tuesday. "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."