A prosecutor said Monday in the first federal death penalty trial to start since President Joe Biden took office that the man who killed eight people on a New York City bike path in 2017 asked to hang the flag of an Islamic militant group in his hospital room and grinned as he spoke proudly of the carnage.
Sayfullo Saipov drove a rented pickup truck onto a concrete path next to the Hudson River on a bright Halloween day, accelerating to 66 mph (106 km/h), running over pedestrians and cyclists, and leaving a trail of the dead and injured in his wake.
A few blocks from the World Trade Center, the truck struck a school bus, ending the rampage.
A police officer said Saipov appeared from the crash and brandished paintball and black pellet pistols that seemed deadly weapons at him before being shot.
Saipov was taken into custody at the site along the West Side Highway after the cop shot him.
To charges of terrorism, Saipov, 34, has entered a not guilty plea. But defense attorney David Patton claimed that his client intended to kill in his opening remarks to the jury.
“It wasn’t a mistake. He deliberately did it, Patton said, adding that Saipov had been absorbed in terrorist audio and video materials and social media and believed committing a terrorist act was his religious duty.
And today, as we sit here, he still holds that opinion, Patton added.
He killed eight individuals, among other things.
However, the attorney argued that jurors should consider the evidence to determine that prosecutors were mistaken in asserting that Saipov took specific actions to gain admission to a terrorist organization.
According to Patton, Saipov anticipated dying that day as a martyr to exact revenge on all Muslims killed.
Assistant US Attorney Alexander highlighted the horrific spectacle Saipov left behind, including the dead and nearly a dozen people with catastrophic, life-altering injuries.
Saipov was tinkering with an electrical gadget at the defense table.
Li reported that mangled bicycles were left all along a well-traveled trail in the aftermath of the attack.
The riders, who were people, were either dead or unconscious. Injured and confused, survivors stumbled around, looking for their loved ones.
Screams were heard everywhere,” he stated. A mother and her family were on vacation from Belgium, together with five acquaintances from Argentina and two Americans.
Li said that Saipov intended the cry to be “celebratory.”
Li said that witnesses would include an FBI agent who Saipov asked to fly an “ISIS” flag in his hospital room.
“He wanted to talk to the FBI right away. The prosecutor stated that the spy would testify that Saipov grinned as he described his devastation, indicating that he was pleased with his attack.
He admitted to them that he intended to murder as many people as possible.
After being elected, Biden halted capital punishment for federal offenses.
Under Attorney General Merrick Garland, his Justice Department has not yet initiated a new effort to seek the death penalty in a federal case.
But he has let American prosecutors keep pushing for the death penalty in instances.