NYC bike path killer doesn't testify in death penalty phase
The man convicted of killing eight people in a terrorist attack on a Manhattan bike path declined to testify in the death penalty phase of his trial Wednesday, just as he had before the jury returned guilty verdicts several weeks ago.
Sayfullo Saipov, 35, declined the invitation to speak on his own behalf offered by U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick before proceedings concluded for the week. Twice, he said “not now” when asked if he wanted to testify. Afterward, the defense rested.
Earlier in the day, his mother cried and his sister sobbed as they told jurors that Saipov was not capable of such an attack before falling under the spell of terrorists who wanted to kill innocent civilians.
A jury that convicted him may begin deciding as early as next Tuesday whether Saipov will face death or life in prison for killing the eight and seriously injuring nearly 20 others on Halloween in 2017.
A federal jury in New York has not rendered a death sentence that withstood legal appeals in decades, with the last execution in 1954.
Several family members, including his parents, two sisters and a grandfather, were among those who testified last week at his penalty phase that they hope he stays alive, if only to return to the man he once was and realize the horror and harm he caused.
Before that, prosecutors had summoned numerous family members of the dead to testify about the continuing effect that the deaths had on their lives.
Testimony showed during the trial that Saipov carried out the attack after indulging himself in propaganda from the Islamic State group, which encouraged individuals to become martyrs by killing others.
When Saipov emerged from his rented truck after his rampage, he pointed pellet and paintball guns at a police officer who shot him, the officer who fired the shots told jurors.
Saipov, a citizen of Uzbekistan who came to the U.S. in 2010, had worked as a long-haul truck driver before moving to Paterson, New Jersey.