Federal prosecutors have recommended life in prison for the man who opened fire on a crowded Brooklyn subway train last year, wounding 10 people.
In a memo to Judge William F. Kuntz II on Wednesday, prosecutors said there was overwhelming evidence showing that Frank James intended to kill. They asked that he be sentenced to 10 concurrent life sentences, as well as 120 months in prison.
“Sentencing the defendant to life in prison is the only sentence that will ensure that he does not harm the public again,” wrote U.S. Attorney Breon Peace.
James’ defense lawyers, however, asked that he be sentenced to 18 years in prison, insisting that he suffered and continues to suffer from a serious mental illness.
“After decades of persistently seeking, but never receiving, appropriate mental health care, Mr. James wrought unspeakable horror on innocent subway riders, each completely blameless for their struggles. His actions were inexcusable and he he does not justify or minimize them. But Mr. James is not bad. He is very, very sick,” his lawyer, Mia Eisner-Grynberg, wrote in a court document.
In January, James pleaded guilty to federal terrorism charges for the attack on the morning of April 12, 2022.
Dressed as a maintenance worker, James fired a semi-automatic pistol about 32 times after setting off smoke grenades, wounding 10 victims as the train pulled into a Sunset Park station. James then fled into the fog and chaos, triggering a 30-hour chase across the city that ended when he called the police.
“The fact that no one was killed by the defendant’s 32 shots can only be described as luck and not an intentional choice by the defendant,” Peace wrote.
James will be sentenced on September 28.