A white supremacist convicted of fatally stabbing a Black man in a racially-motivated attack near New York’s Times Square has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
James Jackson, 30, pleaded guilty to murdering 66-year-old Timothy Caughman earlier this year and was convicted on six counts, including terrorism and hate crime charges. Jackson, an Army veteran from Baltimore, told police he traveled to New York with the intent of pulling off a “political terrorist attack” and to “inspire white men to kill black men, to scare black men, and to provoke a race war,” the Manhattan DA’s office said on Feb. 13. the day of the sentencing.
His conviction marked the first-ever conviction of a white supremacist on terrorism charges in New York State.
“American law enforcement has been slow to acknowledge the rise and scope of white nationalism, and this has emboldened actors like the defendant,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement. “We have too often treated these crimes as something less than terrorism.”
“The court today has an opportunity to declare that violent white nationalism will not be normalized and that its perpetrators will be sentenced like the terrorists that they are,” Vance added.
The attack unfolded in March 2017 when Caughman was out alone collecting bottles for recycling. That’s when Jackson, who’d spent the night stalking other Black men, ran up behind and stabbed him several times with a mini sword blade before fleeing. A bloodied Caughman managed to stumble into a nearby police station, where he died.
Jackson turned himself into police the following morning after admittedly roaming the city for hours in search of his next victims.
Caughman’s family and friends said they find some relief in knowing the man who killed their loved one is going away for good.
“It’s just, and it ain’t justice,” Caughman’s friend Carl Nimmons, told CBS New York. “He got life in prison. But Timothy is gone, and we’ll never see him again.”
Caughman’s cousin Richard Peek also read a letter to the court, describing the family’s heartbreak over their sudden loss and said, “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.”
Jackson initially expressed zero remorse over the killing, telling investigators he thought the murder would “send me into a blood rage fury.” He changed his tune Wednesday when he offered an apology for what he called a “horrible and unnecessary tragedy.”
“It never should have happened,” Jackson told the judge. “And if I could do it all over again, this never would have happened, for sure.”
Caughman’s relatives called the apology “insulting.”
Despite his client being hellbent on “exterminating” the Black race, Jackson’s attorney Frederick Sosinsky said his client once marched to protest racial injustice, had served honorably alongside African-Americans during his time in the Army and, prior to the attack, had never committed a crime.
“His lost soul and broken spirit permitted him to act as he’d never acted before,” Sosinsky said, arguing Jackson’s military service caused him to snap.
Jackson’s defense team is still appealing pretrial rulings by the judge in the case.