A terrorist convicted of committing a 2017 attack for ISIS that killed eight on a New York City bike path will serve life in prison after a jury said Monday it could not reach a unanimous decision on the death penalty.
Sayfullo Saipov effectively learned his sentence when the jury in the penalty phase of his trial in Manhattan federal court told a judge that it was unable to reach an undivided decision favoring the death penalty on any of the nine capital counts it was asked to consider.
A unanimous decision would have been required to sentence Saipov to death in the first death penalty trial under the Biden administration. Absent the death penalty, the statutorily mandated sentence for the convictions is life in prison, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York said.
US District Judge Vernon Broderick did not immediately impose the mandated sentence Monday, and said an official sentencing date will be scheduled.
Broderick read the jury’s full verdict form in court, accepted the jury’s decision and excused the panel. Saipov shook his lawyer’s hand before being led out of the courtroom.
The jury convicted Saipov in January of all counts against him for the fatal terror attack he committed on Halloween in 2017. Saipov drove a rented U-Haul truck into cyclists and pedestrians on Manhattan’s West Side bike path, then crashed the vehicle into a school bus, authorities said.
After leaving the truck while brandishing a pellet gun and paintball gun, he was shot by a New York Police Department officer and taken into custody, officials said.
“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,” US Attorney Damian Williams said Monday.
Saipov is expected to serve his life sentence at the Federal Bureau of Prisons ADX facility in Florence, Colorado, in solitary confinement at least 22 hours a day, his attorneys said during trial.
The jury convicted him in January of counts of murder in aid of racketeering activity, assault with a dangerous weapon and attempted murder in aid of racketeering activity, attempted murder in aid of racketeering activity, provision of material support to ISIS, and violence and destruction of a motor vehicle.
The conviction triggered a penalty phase of the trial, and the jury started deliberating about the sentence on Wednesday.
The jury expressed in a note just after 2 p.m. Monday it was unable to reach a unanimous decision favoring the death penalty. Prosecutors asked that the court poll the jurors as to whether they were fully satisfied if no further deliberations were to be had, while Saipov’s defense counsel objected to this approach and asked the judge to accept their verdict.
Broderick ruled he would not poll the jury.
Per the judge’s instructions, the jury did not specify on the verdict form how many panel members were in favor of, or against, imposing the death penalty.