Convicted New York City truck attack terrorist Sayfullo Saipov will not face the death penalty after a New York federal jury on Monday failed to reach a unanimous verdict on the death sentence.
Saipov was convicted in late January for the Halloween 2017 terrorist truck attack that killed eight people and wounded 12 others on the Hudson River Bike Path, marking New York’s deadliest terrorist attack since September 11, 2001.
Saipov drove a Home Depot rental truck onto a bicycle path but stopped only after he crashed into a special-needs school bus. He was heard shouting, “Allahu Akbar,” as he exited the truck.
After authorities fired shots at Saipov, he was taken to a hospital, where he reportedly smiled when describing the attack and asked to fly the Islamic State’s (ISIS) flag in his room.
Although a jury convicted him of all 28 counts in the indictment, they had to reach a separate unanimous verdict for federal authorities to impose the death penalty. Still, Saipov will spend the rest of his life behind bars without the possibility of release in lieu of the death penalty.
United States Attorney Damian Williams issued the following statement after the jury declined to impose the death penalty:
On October 31, 2017, Sayfullo Saipov stole eight innocent lives – and devastated the lives of many more – in a horrendous terrorist attack. This evil act was fueled by Saipov’s allegiance to ISIS, an allegiance which Saipov proudly maintained after the attack and up through his trial. Today a jury has declined to authorize the death penalty for Saipov, and accordingly the defendant will be subject to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
During last week’s closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Houle told the jury Saipov deserved the death penalty for his “unremorseful slaughter of innocent civilians,” ABC News reported.
“Murder is always terrible but when the defendant made the choice to murder multiple people he exposed himself to a harsher punishment,” Houle said. “He stole eight lives.”
However, Saipov’s defense attorney David Patton claimed the jurors had “an awesome responsibility and power” in determining the fate of Saipov’s life and argued it was “not necessary” for him to die. Patton also urged the jury to let Saipov “die in obscurity, not as a hero, not as a martyr.”
“It is not necessary to kill Sayfullo Saipov, not for our safety or anyone else’s and not to do justice,” Patton said. “In this case, we are asking you to decide that meeting death with more death is not the answer.”
Although New York outlawed capital punishment in 2004, the death penalty remains available in federal courts. However, New York has not carried out the death penalty for a federal case since 1953, when convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed.