MANHATTAN (CN) – After Cesar Sayoc mailed out 16 bomb-like devices to prominent Democrats, financiers and CNN last year, many observers uttered the same question asked about many accused terrorists: Where was he radicalized?
Sayoc’s attorneys provided a stark answer in a 32-page sentencing memo.
“In this darkness, Mr. Sayoc found light in Donald J. Trump,” defense attorney Sarah Baumgartel wrote.
Hoping their client will receive a statutory minimum 10-year sentence for his admitted crimes, Sayoc’s counsel from the Federal Defenders of New York recounted the story of a mentally and emotionally vulnerable man with a troubled childhood, severe steroid addictions, and susceptibility to paranoid fantasies, spurred by “outlandish” right-wing media reports.
“Mr. Sayoc was an ardent Trump fan and, when Trump announced he was running for President, Mr. Sayoc enthusiastically supported him,” the sentencing memo states. “He began watching Fox News religiously at the gym, planning his morning workout to coincide with Fox and Friends and his evenings to dovetail with Hannity.”
Filled with Sayoc’s childhood photos, the memo details of a boy abandoned by a drug-addicted and womanizing father who skipped out on birthday cards and alimony payments.
“It was a crushing blow for the young boy,” Baumgarten wrote.
Describing her client as “increasingly obsessive, paranoid and angry” in the lead-up to last year’s midterm elections, Baumgarten insists that Sayoc did not believe that the bombs would detonate.
“In Mr. Sayoc’s mind, he was sending a hoax device, and he had no true grasp of the severity of his crimes or the potential ramifications of his actions,” the memo states. “Now, nearly a year later, he understands how deeply wrong his actions were, and he is truly sorry for sending these packages.”
In March, Sayoc admitted to sending the devices to former president Barack Obama; ex-secretary of state Hillary Clinton; former attorney general Eric Holder; ex-CIA director John Brennan; ex-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; liberal financiers George Soros and Tom Steyer; actor Robert de Niro; prominent Democrats Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Maxine Waters; and two CNN newsrooms.