James Harris Jackson pleaded guilty to the murder of Timothy Caughman last week; he admitted killing the 66-year-old with a sword as he collected bottles for recycling in March 2017.
The 28-year-old former US soldier from Baltimore also admitted roaming the streets of New York in search of black victims leading up to the attack.
As reported by the BBC, Jackson traveled to New York on March 17, 2017, and plotted his attack while staying at a Manhattan hotel.
Just three days later, the ex-military man began his search for a victim. While slinking the streets, police say Jackson wore a long coat to hide his 26in (66cm) Roman-style sword. When he spotted Caughman, an older man collecting bottles for recycling from rubbish bins, Jackson started stabbing him in the chest and back before leaving him dead and fleeing the scene.
Mr. Caughman somehow managed to walk into a police station while bleeding. However, he later died in hospital from his fatal wounds.
Jackson’s guilty plea makes this case the first-ever conviction in the state for Murder in the First Degree in Furtherance of an Act of Terrorism, as well as Murder in the Second Degree as a Crime of Terrorism.
District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr said in a statement that white nationalism would not be normalized, stating instead that murderers will be treated as the ‘terrorist[s] that [they] are.’
District Attorney Vance said:
White nationalism will not be normalized in New York. If you come here to kill New Yorkers in the name of white nationalism, you will be investigated, prosecuted, and incapacitated like the terrorist that you are.
You will spend your life in prison without possibility of parole because there is no place in our city or our society for terrorists – ‘domestic’ or otherwise.
This resolution won’t bring back Timothy Caughman, a beloved New Yorker who was executed for being black on a midtown street corner. It won’t reverse the alarming rise of white nationalism in America.
It is, however, the loudest message that a civil society can send to would-be terrorists, and I thank our prosecutors and the NYPD Detectives whose tireless work enabled us to secure this landmark conviction and send this very loud message today.
Jackson told police after his arrest that he came to New York to ‘murder black men’ and that he focused on Mr. Caughman because he was ‘black’ and ‘alone on a dark street.’
Not to mention, he stated that he believed his murder to be a ‘political terrorist attack’ and intended to provoke a race war’ by inspiring ‘white men to kill black men, to scare black men.’ Jackson is expected to receive life in prison without the possibility of parole – the maximum sentence permitted under New York criminal law.
He will be sentenced on February 13, 2019. Not soon enough, in my opinion.