A white supremacist from Baltimore on Wednesday pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing a black man in New York City with a sword — a crime officials say was the first of many attacks on black people he had planned before turning himself in to authorities.
James H. Jackson, 30, pleaded guilty to six counts, including a murder and hate crime charge, in the killing of Timothy Caughman in March 2017 with a Roman short sword, the Associated Press reported. Jackson told detectives he’d traveled to New York “for the purpose of killing black men,” a criminal complaint revealed.
Police at the time said Jackson, who is a military veteran, picked New York because it’s “the media capital of the world” and he “wanted to make a statement.” He traveled to the city from Baltimore using a Bolt Bus, lodging at a Midtown hotel for a few days before wandering through Manhattan.
“That’s true,” Jackson replied to Judge Laura Ward on Wednesday when asked whether he carried a sword and two knives as he stalked potential victims, according to the AP.
Jackson would ultimately target 66-year-old Caughman, a self-described bottle and can recycler who was sifting through trash when he was stabbed multiple times. Caughman went to a police station for help after the attack and was taken to a hospital, where he died.
Jackson faces life in prison without parole following his guilty plea, the AP reports. He will be sentenced Feb. 13.
He turned himself in after killing Caughman, telling officers in a Times Square police substation he was wanted for murder and recognized his own photo in news reports. Police said Jackson gave statements that indicated the attack was “clearly” racially motivated.
His long-standing feelings of resentment toward black men were further clarified in the criminal complaint, which states Jackson “was angered by black men mixing with white women.”
In a jailhouse interview with the New York Daily News published shortly after the killing, Jackson said he hoped his attack would deter white women from entering romantic relationships with black men.
“It’s well over 10 years that he’s been harboring these feelings of hate towards male blacks,” Assistant Police Chief William Aubry said at the time.
The complaint further alleged that Jackson considered Caughman’s killing to be “practice” before he went to Times Square, where he planned to kill more black men.
Jackson told the Daily News he felt some regret after the attack, as he didn’t know Caughman was older. Instead, he told the publication, he would have preferred to kill “a young thug” or “a successful older black man” who was with blond women. He claims he had his first racist thoughts at age 3, ideals that later proliferated as he spent time on websites such as the Daily Stormer.
Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the district attorney for Manhattan, said in a statement after the killing that Jackson had “acted on his plan, randomly selecting a beloved New Yorker solely on the basis of his skin color, and stabbing him repeatedly and publicly on a midtown street corner.”
Numerous public officials spoke out against the hateful act. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) issued a statement calling the killing “more than an unspeakable human tragedy” and an assault on the city’s “inclusiveness and our diversity.”
Jackson was in the Army for more than three years, deploying to Afghanistan between December 2010 and November 2011, an Army representative told The Post in 2017. His service record did not include any badges reflecting combat interaction with any enemy during that time. Jackson served as a military intelligence analyst and left the service in August 2012 having earned the rank of specialist.
Frederick Sosinsky, one of Jackson’s attorneys, told Ward on Wednesday that detectives who had no involvement in the case interviewed his client weeks ago without notifying defense lawyers, the AP reports. Sosinsky said the interview was “shocking to the conscience” and a violation of state and federal laws.
Vance said he would investigate the apparent unauthorized interview, the New York Post reported. However, he also called the plea — New York’s first prosecution under the “murder as a crime of terrorism” statute — a landmark conviction, the AP reported.
“This was more than a murder case,” Vance said outside the courtroom, according to the AP. “This was a type of cruelty that needs to be treated with the most serious of our laws.”