FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A 180-degree flip pushed a former Marine into a terrorist plot targeting tourists in San Francisco, and now he's ready to pay the price.
Anger came to life in Everitt Jameson's note to explain the terrorist attack he never completed. The 26-year-old said no American was innocent in our godless society and took particular aim at President Trump for giving Jerusalem to the Jews.
But this misanthropic message represented a full philosophical shift. Jameson's attorney says he grew up wanting to serve his country,
"His dream, his goal was to serve his country with his military service," said federal public defender Charles Lee.
But Lee says two life events made Jameson lose faith in his government. First, the Marines discharged him when a bee sting revealed health problems he hadn't disclosed. Then, two days before he started down the path to terrorism, CPS took his two children away, mostly because of violence by his wife.
"So at the time, obviously that's a very traumatic experience," Lee said. "At that point, Mr. Jameson is incredibly emotional and susceptible to suggestions."
A confidential informant noticed Jameson's positive reactions to terrorist messaging on Facebook and initiated contact to see if he wanted to go further.
For a couple of months, Jameson talked to the informant and undercover FBI agents he thought were agents of ISIS.
He bragged about his military training, his sharpshooting skills, and his knowledge about explosives. He also suggested a Christmas day attack at San Francisco's Pier 39.
Court documents show he asked the agents for automatic weapons and some materials to make explosives.
But his public defender says the case against him was somewhat weak because he changed his mind days before the planned attack.
"At the end of the day, Mr. Jameson told the undercover in this case, 'I've reconsidered. I don't think I can go through with it,'" Lee said,
"That's a factual argument you'd make to a jury," legal analyst Tony Capozzi said. "I think it would be very difficult for a jury to buy that."
Capozzi says getting a "not guilty" verdict from a jury in the Central Valley would've been nearly impossible in this case.
He says even the fact that Jameson didn't make the first contact does not make entrapment an issue if prosecutors could prove he was predisposed to terrorism.
That's where the Facebook responses come back into play - like when he posted a GIF of a crowd giving a standing ovation to an article about a Halloween terrorist attack in New York.
"If he's hitting the like button on a tragedy in New York City, it seems pretty clear he may well be predisposed," Capozzi said.
Jameson was facing up to 40 years in prison at trial, but he's expected to get 15 when a judge sentences him in September.
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