Prosecutors plan to seek a decades-long prison sentence for a man who is expected to plead guilty this week to opening fire in a subway car and wounding 10 riders in an attack that shocked New York City.
Frank James, 63, is scheduled to enter a guilty plea on Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court, admitting that he was responsible for the April 12 attack. It set off a massive 30-hour manhunt that ended when he called the police on himself.
Prosecutors told Judge William F. Kuntz II in a letter late last week that they plan to ask him to go beyond the roughly 32-year to 39-year sentence that federal sentencing guidelines would recommend. James planned the attack for years and endangered the lives of dozens of people, prosecutors said in the letter.
Defense attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday, when courts were closed to observe the New Year’s holiday.
James had been scheduled to stand trial in late February.
His lawyers informed the judge on Dec. 21 that James wanted to plead guilty. Prosecutors say he plans to plead guilty to 11 charges without a plea agreement.
Ten of those charges — each one corresponding to a specific victim — accuse him of committing a terrorist attack against a mass transportation system carrying passengers and employees.
State and military police were sent Tuesday to keep people off Buffalo’s snow-choked roads, and officials kept counting fatalities three days after western New York’s deadliest storm in at least two generations.
Amid some signs of progress — suburban roads reopened and emergency response service was restored — County Executive Mark Poloncarz warned that police would be stationed at entrances to Buffalo and at major intersections to enforce a ban on driving within New York’s second-most populous city.
“Too many people are ignoring the ban,” Poloncarz, a Democrat, said at a news conference.
The National Weather Service predicted that as much as 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) more snow could fall Tuesday in Erie County, which includes Buffalo and its 275,000 residents. County Emergency Services Commissioner Dan Neaverth Jr. said officials also were somewhat concerned about the potential for flooding later in the week, when the weather is projected to warm and start melting the snow.
The rest of the United States also was reeling from the ferocious winter storm, with at least an additional two dozen deaths reported in other parts of the country, and power outages in communities from Maine to Washington state.
A suburban Toronto man who was killed by police after authorities say he fatally shot five people in his condominium building, including three members of the condo board, had a court hearing scheduled for the next day to determine if the building’s management could evict him.
Francesco Villi, 73, attacked neighbors on three floors of his building on Sunday night, killing three men and two women and wounding a sixth person, a 66-year-old woman who is expected to survive, according to police. One of the officers who responded to a call about an active shooter inside the building in the suburb of Vaughan shot and killed Villi, authorities said.
The attack happened the day before a scheduled online court hearing in which lawyers for the condominium corporation were set to argue that it should be allowed to evict Villi because he had spent years harassing building employees, board members and other neighbors. In court documents, the building’s lawyers said Villi ignored court orders to end the harassment and stop posting online about a longstanding dispute he had with the condo’s management.
Villi long claimed in videos posted on social media and in court documents that vibrations, noises and emissions from the building’s electrical room under his unit were making him sick, and that board members and the building’s developer were to blame.
According to court documents, at least two condominium managers quit because of him, and security guards quit or changed shifts to avoid him. Residents also said Villi would swear at them and film them.
The Supreme Court ’s conservative majority sounded sympathetic Monday to a Christian graphic artist who objects to designing wedding websites for gay couples, a dispute that’s the latest clash of religion and gay rights to land at the highest court.
The designer and her supporters say that ruling against her would force artists — from painters and photographers to writers and musicians — to do work that is against their faith. Her opponents, meanwhile, say that if she wins, a range of businesses will be able to discriminate, refusing to serve Black customers, Jewish or Muslim people, interracial or interfaith couples or immigrants, among others.
The lively arguments at the Supreme Court ran well beyond the allotted 70 minutes.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, one of three high court appointees of former President Donald Trump, described Lorie Smith, the website designer, as “an individual who says she will sell and does sell to everyone, all manner of websites, (but) that she won’t sell a website that requires her to express a view about marriage that she finds offensive.”
The issue of where to draw the line dominated the questions early in Monday’s arguments at the high court.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson asked whether a photography store in a shopping mall could refuse to take pictures of Black people on Santa’s lap.
“Their policy is that only white children can be photographed with Santa in this way, because that’s how they view the scenes with Santa that they’re trying to depict,” Jackson said.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor repeatedly pressed Kristen Waggoner, the lawyer for Smith, over other categories. “How about people who don’t believe in interracial marriage? Or about people who don’t believe that disabled people should get married? Where’s the line?” Sotomayor asked.