A white racist accused of fatally stabbing a 66-year-old stranger on a Manhattan street because he was black says he'd intended it as "a practice run" in a mission to deter interracial relationships.
James Harris Jackson, 28, was in court Monday, as prosecutors charged him with murder as an act of terrorism in addition to the murder as a hate crime charge he'd already been facing. Jackson did not speak, and his attorney had no comment.
Speaking with a reporter for the Daily News at New York City's Rikers Island jail complex a day earlier, Jackson said he envisioned a white woman thinking: "Well, if that guy feels so strongly about it, maybe I shouldn't do it."
The victim, Timothy Caughman, who was remembered as a gentleman and a good neighbor, was alone and collecting bottles for recycling last week when he was attacked from behind with a sword. He staggered, bleeding, into a police station and later died at a hospital.
Childhood friends of Caughman, who grew up in Queens, attended the hearing and said he was a kind man who didn't deserve the brutality.
"Tim Caughman did not deserve to die like that," said Portia Clark. "Nobody does. I mean, come on, we're black, white, yellow, brown — that's ridiculous. We're trying to get along."
Carl Nimmons wept outside court after seeing Jackson. "It really hurt me to see that man, because I can't do nothing about it. I don't have the power to do anything about it," he said.
Nimmons says he and his wife met Caughman when they were kids growing up together in the South Jamaica Houses.
"We loved Tim. Tim was a great guy," said Clark.
Caughman's nickname in his younger days was Hardrock, Nimmons said, because "he was a good fighter back in the day. He got a nickname, Tim Hardrock."
In the interview, Jackson said in retrospect, he would rather have killed "a young thug" or "a successful older black man with blondes ... people you see in Midtown. These younger guys that put white girls on the wrong path."
He complained that on television, "it's like every other commercial in the past few years has a mixed-race couple in it."
"The white race is being eroded. ... No one cares about you. The Chinese don't care about you, the blacks don't care about you," he said.
Jackson, who was raised in what was described as a churchgoing, liberal family in a Baltimore suburb, said his ideal society is "1950s America."
Jackson was in the Army from 2009 to 2012 and worked as an intelligence analyst, the Army said. Deployed in Afghanistan in 2010-11, he earned several medals and attained the rank of specialist.
The military training, Jackson said, helped him plan the bloodshed.
"I had been thinking about it for a long time, for the past couple of years," he said. "I figured I would end up getting shot by police, kill myself, or end up in jail."
His attorney, Sam Talkin, has said if the allegations are anywhere close to being true, "then we're going to address the obvious psychological issues that are present in this case."
Erica Byfield contributed to this report.