By Larry Neumeister | Associated Press
NEW YORK — A split among jurors means there will be no death penalty for an Islamic extremist who maniacally raced a truck along a popular New York City bike path, killing eight people and maiming others.
The decision means Sayfullo Saipov, 35, an Uzbekistan citizen who lived in New Jersey, gets an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole in the October 2017 attack. Jurors told the judge Monday that they were unable to reach the unanimous verdict required for a death sentence.
The sentencing was the culmination of a trial that featured emotional testimony from survivors of the attack and relatives of the five tourists from Argentina, two Americans and a Belgian woman who were killed.
The same jury convicted Saipov in January of 28 charges including murder in aid of racketeering and supporting a terrorist organization.
It returned last month for a penalty phase to decide whether he should be sentenced to death or spend the rest of his life at a maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado.
Over several days, prosecutors argued for the harshest punishment. Some of Saipov’s relatives testified that they still loved him and hoped he would eventually realize the evil of his act.
Saipov’s responsibility for the killings was never in doubt. His lawyers conceded he steered his rental truck on a sunny day onto a crowded lower Manhattan bike path along the Hudson River in a bid for martyrdom.
Prosecutors said he sped up, trying to kill as many people as he could. His plan to drive to the Brooklyn Bridge and kill even more people was thwarted when he crashed into a school bus. He left the wrecked vehicle shouting “God is great” in Arabic, wielding paintball and pellet guns, before being shot by a police officer.
Prosecutors said he smiled as he asked that an Islamic State group flag be posted on the wall of his hospital room.
While some U.S. states send prisoners to death row with regularity, that kind of outcome is extremely rare in New York, which no longer has capital punishment and last executed a prisoner in 1963.
A day after the attack, then-President Donald Trump tweeted that Saipov “SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!”
Biden pledged during his campaign to work toward abolishing federal capital punishment, and no federal executions have taken place since he took office. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland imposed a moratorium on executions for …read more
Source:: The Mercury News