An Islamic extremist who ran down and killed eight people with a truck on a bike path in Manhattan spoke during his sentencing on Wednesday, delivering his interpretation of a religious lesson to a courtroom full of his victims and their relatives.
He will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Sayfullo Saipov repeatedly paused as he discussed in-depth Allah and the devil and the history of the Islamic faith while speaking via a translator.
His sentencing in Manhattan federal court comes after a jury in March denied the Uzbek national and former New Jersey resident the death penalty, leaving him with a mandatory life sentence for the murder of tourists and New Yorkers on October 31, 2017.
During the sentence, relatives of the eight victims of the Halloween terror assault spoke, often through tears, detailing their ongoing suffering and occasionally addressing the man found guilty of the deaths.
The Father of the victim Ann-Laure Decadt, Frank Decadt, expressed his desire to Sayfullo Saipov that “one day you will understand the extent of horror you have inflicted on so many people.”
In her wheelchair, Marion Van Reeth, amputated both legs in the attack, sat before Saipov and said to him, “I will never be able to walk as you can.”
She said: “I have a question for you. Saipov lowered his head and eyes closed, listening to a translation of the proceedings through earbuds.
Are you still persuaded now that you’ve spent so much time in jail?
She shared the hope of others that Saipov would one day realize the mistake of his terrorist conduct.
According to a presentence submission, the prosecution requested that Judge Vernon S. Broderick sentence the defendant to eight consecutive life terms, one for each fatality, and an additional 260 years in prison.
Prosecutors declared that Saipov was an open terrorist and a proud murderer who deserved no mercy and to be punished to the maximum extent of the law.
“After months of planning a vicious terrorist attack, Saipov got what he wanted: brutal carnage of innocent people, lives and families destroyed, and terror in New York City,” they continued.
The shortest statement was made at the sentencing hearing by Gabriela Pabla Pereya, the wife of Ariel Erlij, one of five men from Argentina who died during a bike ride as they commemorated their 30th high school graduation. She referred to Saipov as a coward and advised him to commit himself if he truly desired God’s acceptance and love.
Nicholas Cleves was killed, and Monica Missio said his death “has destroyed my life.”
Saipov, 35, carried out a terrorist attack that left a trail of devastation in its wake.
In addition to the 18 people who suffered significant injuries, five visitors from Argentina, two Americans, and a Belgian woman also perished.
Saipov emerged from his truck shouting “God is great” in Arabic and waved paintball and pellet weapons before being shot by a policeman and brought into the jail.
He asked FBI agents questioning him in a hospital room following the attack whether they may hang an Islamic State group flag on the walls, according to the prosecution, and smiled.
His family argued for a life sentence throughout his trial, hoping he would come to terms with what he had done and express regret.
They claimed they wished for him to revert to the unassuming man they knew before he became obsessed with the violent organization’s internet propaganda.
Former long-haul truck driver Saipov entered the country legally in 2010 from Uzbekistan, living first in Florida and then Ohio before relocating to Paterson, New Jersey, to be with his family.
His attorney, David Patton, told the jury that his actions were “senseless, horrific, and there’s no justification for them.”