NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An Army veteran from Baltimore who pleaded guilty to terror charges for murdering a black man in a racially motivated attack nearly two years ago was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole – the maximum sentence allowed.
James Jackson, 30, fatally stabbed Timothy Caughman, 66, in the back with a sword on March 20, 2017 near Times Square.
Jackson told police he traveled to the city to pull off a “political terrorist attack” and “inspire white men to kill black men, to scare black men, and to provoke a race war,” according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
Caughman’s family and friends say they find little comfort knowing the man who killed him two years ago will never be a free man.
“It’s just, and it ain’t justice,” said Caughman’s friend Carl Nimmons. “He got life in prison. But Timothy is gone, and we’ll never see him again.
Jackson pleaded guilty to all charges against him, including murder in the first degree in furtherance of an act of terrorism and murder in the second degree as a hate crime.
The conviction represents the first time a white supremacist has been convicted on terror charges in New York State, Vance said. Vance said Jackson wrote a manifesto emblazoned with a swastika and a Crusader’s cross, which outlined his hope for the extermination of “Negro races.” They shared passages from his manifesto, never heard before, which read “the racial world war starts today” and “Negroes are obviously first on the list for extermination.”
Jackson was in the Army from March 2009 to August 2012 and worked as a military intelligence analyst, according to the Army. He was deployed in Afghanistan from December 2010 to November 2011 and earned several medals.
Jackson’s attorney claims he wasn’t a racist but snapped after returning from service in Afghanistan.
“He simply couldn’t find direction in the world,” said defense attorney Fred Sosinsky.
Jackson apologized in court.
“It never should have happened,” he said. “If I could do it all over again this never would have happened.”
Caughman’s loved ones don’t buy it.
“It was for the courts. It was BS,” Portia Clark said.
“Was it insulting?” CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez asked Nimmons.
“Yes. Yes it was insulting. Because I know he didn’t mean it, no kind of way,” he said.
Caughman’s cousin read a letter to the judge, describing the family’s heartbreaking loss, saying “we’ll never know how much he truly suffered, or how alone he felt in his last moments. That is our life sentence. We get no parole either.”
“From the outset of this case, the people have rejected any resolution of this case that does not acknowledge the reality that James Jackson is a white supremacist and terrorist. This defendant has now pleaded guilty to all counts of the indictment against him, including terrorism. But the fact Mr. Jackson has pleaded guilty in no way mitigates the horror of his actions. The defendant will be sentenced to the maximum sentence provided by our laws – life without parole,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. “That is a sentence reserved for crimes which by their definition seek to divide, terrorize, and undermine our way of life and central values – values of racial equality, and the peaceful coexistence of all New Yorkers. This sentence is mandatory under the defendant’s plea to murder as a crime of terrorism, and we submit today that the conduct to which the defendant has admitted is worthy of no other sentence.”
Jackson defense team says it plans to appeal, which could take two more years.