A white Baltimore man who traveled to New York City in 2017 and killed a black man with a sword in hopes of sparking a race war in the United States pleaded guilty to murder as an act of terrorism, prosecutors said on Wednesday.
James Jackson, a 30-year-old U.S. Army specialist, stabbed Timothy Caughman, 66, to death on March 20, 2017, and turned himself in at a police station the next day after police circulated surveillance video of the killing.
He told detectives that he had chosen to commit the crime in New York because it is the U.S. media capital and he believed that the killing would start a race war, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said in a statement.
His guilty plea marks the first conviction of murder as a crime of terrorism in New York state, the district attorney’s office said, under terrorism laws that increase sentences for the underlying crimes.
Jackson faces life in prison without parole at his sentencing hearing on Feb. 13, the district attorney’s office said.
“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,” Cyrus Vance, the district attorney, said in a statement.
Jackson told detectives in 2017 that he saw Caughman’s killing as “a call to arms” and that he hoped the U.S. government would pursue a “global policy aimed at the complete extermination of the Negro race,” according to the district attorney’s office.
Jackson also pleaded guilty to murder in the first degree in furtherance of an act of terrorism, murder in the second degree as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon.
A lawyer for Jackson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jackson served as a specialist in the U.S. Army until 2012, and was deployed in Afghanistan for nearly a year beginning in December 2010. He was awarded several medals for his conduct.
Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Scott Malone and James Dalgleish