(NEW YORK) — A white Maryland man accused of roaming the streets of New York City looking for a black person to “assassinate” pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning to multiple counts of murder, including murder as an act of terrorism.
James Jackson, 28, who is accused of fatally stabbing 66-year-old Timothy Caughman on March 20, is the first defendant charged with murder as an act of terrorism in Manhattan since the statute was revised after the 9/11 attacks.
According to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jackson, an Army veteran from Baltimore, “prowled the streets of New York for three days in search of a black person to assassinate in order to launch a campaign of terrorism against our Manhattan community and the values we celebrate.”
“With total presence of mind, he 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,” Vance said in an earlier statement. “James Jackson wanted to kill black men, planned to kill black men, and then did kill a black man.”
Jackson has been charged with one count of murder in the first degree as an act of terrorism; one count of murder in the second degree as an act of terrorism; one count of murder in the second degree as a hate crime; and three counts of criminal possession of a weapon.
In court Wednedsay morning, Jackson didn’t say anything beyond entering his not guilty plea.
Attorney Patrick Brackley was appointed to represent Jackson Wednesday after the veteran’s original lawyer, Sam Talkin, stepped down. Talkin said he is no longer able to represent Jackson as Jackson’s family and friends are unwilling to pay his legal fees. Brackley declined to comment outside court.
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