- Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty in the case of Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek man charged with killing eight people in New York City in 2017 after driving a truck into a crowded bike lane.
- Saipov’s defense attorneys sought a plea deal that included the possibility of a life sentence in exchange for a guilty plea, NBC News reported.
- The attorneys cited commentary from President Donald Trump, who tweeted after the attack that the suspect “should get death penalty,” as part of their reasoning.
A suspected terrorist who killed eight people in New York City last year after driving a truck down a crowded bike lane on Halloween, will face the death penalty at his upcoming trial, federal prosecutors said on Friday.
Sayfullo Saipov, a 30-year-old man from Uzbekistan, was charged last Noveember with carrying out the deadliest attack in New York City since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
Court papers say that after Saipov was arrested, he told the authorities that he was inspired by ISIS videos, and that he used a truck to make sure he could inflict as much harm as possible.
A government filing argued that the case against Saipov meets the legal requirements for prosecutors to seek the death penalty, including premeditation to commit acts of terror and the “heinous, cruel, and depraved manner” in which the victims were killed.
Lawyers for Saipov had pushed for a life sentence in exchange for a guilty plea, citing in part President Donald Trump’s remarks after the attacks. Trump tweeted at the time, “should get death penalty,” immediately prompting concerns about whether Saipov could receive a fair trial.
Sessions “works for President Trump and obviously wants to keep his job,” Saipov’s attorneys argued.
“It defies reality, not to mention all appearances, to believe that he could make a truly independent decision as to whether Mr. Saipov should face the death penalty, knowing that a decision not to seek death would inevitably trigger a ‘tweetstorm’ of ridicule and scorn from the President and might well lead to the loss of his job,” they said according to NBC News.
Prosecutors responded by saying Sessions’ decision wasn’t political. The trial is scheduled for October 7, 2019.