A white man who police said traveled to New York City to harm black people pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to a charge of murder “as a crime of terrorism” for the fatal stabbing of a black man on a Manhattan sidewalk last month.
James Jackson, 28, turned himself in to police on March 22 after authorities circulated security-camera footage of him, telling officers he was wanted in the murder two days earlier of 66-year-old Timothy Caughman.
With his arms shackled to his waist, Jackson spoke only to confirm he could not afford his own attorney and to enter his plea during his appearance at Manhattan’s Criminal Court.
Jackson had told police, and would later tell reporters in an interview in jail, that he traveled to New York last month from his Baltimore home to kill multiple black men.
He hoped his planned killing spree in the heart of the country’s media capital would deter black men from dating white women, according to police and to the New York Daily News’s account of an interview with him.
Moments before being stabbed in the front and the back, Caughman had been gathering bottles and cans from garbage cans to exchange at a recycling center for small change. Bleeding, he managed to stagger into a nearby police station before dying.
Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at Caughman’s funeral on Saturday, decrying what he called a racist murder.
Prosecutors have brought six charges against Jackson: murder as a crime of terrorism, murder in the first degree, murder as a hate crime, and three counts of criminal possession of a weapon.
At a court appearance on Monday, Jackson’s lawyer said the suspect’s parents had decided to stop paying for their son’s defense. On Wednesday, the court appointed a public defender, who declined to comment to reporters after the hearing.
Jackson is due back in court on May 31.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lisa Von Ahn)