Lawyers for Cesar Sayoc, who pleaded guilty to sending pipe bombs to CNN and prominent Democrats, filed a request Monday for leniency when their client is sentenced in September.
Sayoc’s targets included former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, and major Democratic donors like George Soros and Tom Steyer.
In March, Sayoc pleaded guilty to 65 felony counts including using a weapon of mass destruction.
His attorneys have requested he be sentenced to the minimum 121 months in prison, according to the filing.
Request for leniency
The sentencing request for leniency says “a series of traumatic events pushed Cesar Sayoc further and further into the margins of society,” citing that he was abandoned by his father, sexually molested and suffered from an intellectual disability.
According to the filing, Sayoc was a fan of Donald Trump before he ran for office, listening to his self- help books on tape. His books on success and business were favorites of Sayoc, the filing said.
When Trump announced his run for office, Sayoc began following politics and watching Fox News while at the gym.
He began attending rallies and posting his political opinions on social media, where his attorneys say he found a “sense of community that he had been missing for so many years.”
Sayoc’s attorneys argue he grew paranoid, anxious and isolated, latching onto Trump in the months before he sent the bombs.
“He conflated his personal situation with the perceived struggles of Trump supporters across the country, and even the President himself,” the filing reads. “His paranoia bled into delusion and Mr. Sayoc came to believe that prominent Democrats were actively working to hurt him, other Trump supporters, and the country as a whole.”
The filing continues to say that Sayoc built devices “designed to look like pipe bombs,” as his mental state deteriorated and that he had “no true grasp of the severity of his crimes.”
Letter to the judge
Sayoc wrote a letter to a federal judge in April that explained his obsession with Trump, saying that going to one of his rallies was like using a “new found drug.”
The letter read in part, “the first thing you here (sic) entering Trump rally is we are not going to take it anymore, the forgotten ones, etc.”
He wrote in the letter that he listened to Trump’s self-help CDs, which he says reprogrammed his mind.
Sayoc also detailed his drug abuse, saying he was using steriod and supplements which contributed to his deteriorated mental state.
“I was the most scared time in my life. … Plus I was using heavy amounts of steroids, 274 different supplement and vitamins … I lost my head, steroids altered my growing anger. I made a bad choice taking them to help … I lost control of myself and mental state from them.”
Defense attorneys said in April that they had him psychologically evaluated and plan to submit two reports in connection with his sentencing: one report by a clinical psychiatrist and another one by a psychiatrist with specialized knowledge to explain how his steroid use likely affected his mental health.
“We believe that these two reports will provide the court with ample information about Mr. Sayoc’s mental health,” his attorneys said.
In a separate letter sent earlier in April, Sayoc said he never intended to harm anyone and built the bombs only to scare people.
None of the devices detonated and no one was injured. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and is set to be sentenced on September 12.