Court-appointed lawyers for Florida strip club DJ Cesar Sayoc said in a sentencing memo their steroid-addled client believed the non-working pipe bombs he mailed to prominent Democrats and other people opposed to President Trump were intended to be hoax devices that would frighten the recipient and were not designed to actually injure Sayoc's targets.
Sayoc’s lawyers argued in the court papers Monday that his actions warrant a less severe sentence and asked for a decade behind bars.
"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 court papers said.
The lawyers pointed to an FBI report issued last week in which the agency found Sayoc’s devices “would have not functioned as a result of their design.”
“Mr. Sayoc’s devices were made from PVC pipe, with powder inside, and a small digital clock taped to the front of the pipe,” the lawyers wrote. “Mr. Sayoc took wires from the clock and ran them into the pipe. But this was for show: the wires were not actually connected to anything that could ignite and the digital clock was not set—it still had the factory sticker over its face simulating a time display.”
The lawyers traced Sayoc’s path to his current predicament, highlighting childhood traumas and business failures that pushed him to the margins of society and then to support President Trump, a fandom which turned increasingly obsessive, paranoid and even angry as the midterms approached.
“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 court filing said. “Mr. Sayoc became obsessed with this idea and found himself unable to think of anything else.”
They added: “He then decided to act out—to send a message, to try to intimidate and scare Trump’s perceived enemies. After months suffering from these delusional beliefs and while using large doses of steroids, his heightened paranoia and anger pushed him to commit these offenses.”
In the prosecution's sentencing memo Monday, government attorneys quoted the FBI as saying even if the devices wouldn’t have functioned they were still dangerous because they were loaded with different chemicals and glass shards.
“Deficient as the defendant may be as a bomb maker, hoaxes do not involve real explosives, real shards of glass, and real toxic chemicals, as the defendant’s IEDs did,” the prosecutors said.
They said a life sentence was appropriate given Sayoc's lack of remorse and failure to fully accept responsibility.
The sentencing is set for Aug. 5.