Divided jury means no death penalty for NYC bike path killer

Mar 13, 2023, 12:54 PM | Updated: 5:24 pm
FILE - This undated file photo provided by the St. Charles County Department of Corrections in St. ...
FILE - This undated file photo provided by the St. Charles County Department of Corrections in St. Charles, Mo., shows Sayfullo Saipov. A jury on Monday, Feb. 13, 2023, will begin considering whether Saipov, an Islamic extremist who killed eight in a New York bike path attack and convicted of federal crimes in January, should get a death sentence, an extraordinarily rare penalty in a state that hasn't had an execution in 60 years. (St. Charles County, Mo., Department of Corrections/KMOV via AP, File)
(St. Charles County, Mo., Department of Corrections/KMOV via AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A split among jurors means there will be 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.

Jurors and attorneys left the courthouse afterward without speaking to reporters gathered in the rain outside. Before he was escorted out by U.S. marshals, Saipov seemed relaxed and shook the hands of one defense lawyer.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams thanked the families of the dead and the survivors “for their patience and understanding as the legal process played out.”

The verdict 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. A formal sentencing date will be set in the future when Saipov can address the court, although his fate is decided.

The same federal jury supporting a terrorist organization.

It returned last month for a penalty phase to decide if he would be sentenced to death or to spend the rest of his life at a maximum-security prison in Florence, Colorado.

Inside the courtroom Monday, victims’ relatives observed as Judge Vernon S. Broderick read a lengthy verdict form in which jurors made clear that they unanimously agreed prosecutors had successfully proven that Saipov carried out the deadly act to support the Islamic State group; that he wanted to instill fear in New Yorkers and those who use the bike path; and that he had no remorse.

But they were not in agreement that he was likely to be violent in prison despite the prosecution’s attempt to prove he would put guards at risk there.

They unanimously agreed with nearly all mitigating factors offered by the defense, including that life in prison would be harsh, that the Islamic State group targeted Uzbek migrants and was manipulative in creating terrorists.

All 12 jurors agreed that life in prison provides hope that Saipov may one day understand the wrongfulness of his conduct, and seven agreed there were factors in his life, personal traits, character or background or other circumstances that made them favor a life sentence.

Prosecutors had 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 path in a bid for martyrdom.

Prosecutors said he sped up, trying to kill as many people as he could, and his plan to drive to the Brooklyn Bridge and kill even more 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, “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 federal crimes in 2021, but he has allowed U.S. prosecutors to continue advocating for capital punishment in cases inherited from previous administrations.

During his trial, Saipov seemed moved by testimony from his father and sisters. Otherwise he sat quietly, shoulders slumped, as he listened through headphones to the a woman from Belgium who lost her legs, and her husband, who needed brain surgery because of the attack.

Saipov thousands and thousands of Muslims are dying all over the world.”

Defense lawyer David Patton had urged a life sentence, saying Saipov would then “die in prison in obscurity, not as a martyr, not as a hero to anyone.”

Saipov came to the U.S. legally from Uzbekistan in 2010 and lived in Ohio and Florida before moving to Paterson, New Jersey.

His federal death penalty trial was the first of its kind in New York in a decade.

In 2007 and again in 2013, federal juries in Brooklyn sentenced to death a man who killed two police detectives, but both sentences were reversed on appeal before a judge ruled the killer was intellectually disabled.

And in 2001a Manhattan federal jury rejected the death penalty for two men convicted in the deadly bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa after their lawyers argued against making the defendants into martyrs.

The last time a person was executed for a federal crime in New York was in 1954.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories


Kevin Linford (Facebook)...
Andrew Adams

Additional sex charges filed against Utah businessman; prosecutors fear more victims possible

A man accused of sexually abusing multiple women at a party in Davis County last summer now faces new charges in Salt Lake County. 
1 day ago
(FILE) Salt Lake City Police car responding to a scene....
Madison Swenson

Man arrested after stealing thousands of dollars in merchandise from SLC airport store

A 30-year-old man accused of stealing nearly $4,100 worth of merchandise from a store inside the Salt Lake City International Airport has been arrested.
1 day ago
Surveillance video captures the moment a masked person shoots at store employees at a Salt Lake Cou...
Madison Swenson

Police looking to identify person who shot at swap meet employees, stole jewelry

Police are asking for the public's help in identifying a person who shot at employees at a Salt Lake County swap meet and then stole jewelry.
1 day ago
Cherry blossoms bloom on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on March 27, 2023 in Washington, DC.  This...
Lindsay Whitehurst, Associated Press

Man accused of stabbing Senate staffer after prison release

A U.S. Senate staffer remained hospitalized Tuesday after police say he was attacked leaving a restaurant in Washington this weekend by a man who had been released from federal prison a day earlier.
1 day ago
Families leave a reunification site in Nashville, Tenn., Monday, March 27, 2023 after several child...
Associated Press

What we know about the Covenant school shooting in Nashville

Six people were killed at a small, private Christian school just south of downtown Nashville on Monday after a shooter opened fire inside the building containing about 200 students, police said.
1 day ago
Flags fly at half-staff at the Utah Capitol. (Photo from @GovCox/Twitter)...
Madison Swenson

Gov. Cox orders flags be lowered in honor of Nashville shooting victims

Gov. Spencer Cox has ordered all flags in Utah be lowered to half-staff in honor of the three children and three adults killed in a school shooting in Nashville.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Stack of old laptops with dark background...
PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Close up of an offset printing machine during production...
Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.
vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
Divided jury means no death penalty for NYC bike path killer