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Man Who Killed 8 People Along NYC Bike Path “Proud of His Attack,” Prosecutor Says
A prosecutor said at the start of a trial that a man who killed eight people on a New York City bike path five years ago left behind a “scene of destruction and horror” where “screams filled the air” before telling an FBI agent he was proud of the destruction he caused and wished the flag of his terrorist group could be placed in his hospital room.
Assistant United States Attorney Alexander Li began his opening speech in federal court in Manhattan by recreating the terror assault that he said Sayfullo Saipov carried out on a beautiful Halloween day in 2017 with a pickup truck he had rented and raced to 66 mph.
The prosecution turned briefly to point a finger in the defendant’s direction as he fiddled with a computer mouse at the defense table, claiming the masked Saipov was to fault for the deaths of eight people and lasting disabilities to others.
Li described the scene as a “scene of ruin and anguish,” with shredded bicycles strewn down a popular path and “screams filling the air” as survivors “staggered around, wounded and bewildered,” looking for relatives and friends. A family from Belgium and several friends from Argentina were among the victims.
He claimed Saipov intended to kill more people by driving to the Brooklyn Bridge, “where he could mow down even more people.” According to Li, Saipov, 34, was charged in the attack after crashing his truck into a school bus, leaving one youngster with catastrophic brain damage.
He stepped out of the truck wielding a pellet gun and a paintball gun, shouting an Arabic phrase that means “God is Great!” According to Li, Saipov intended the shout to be “celebratory.” A police officer shot him and apprehended him at the scene on the West Side Highway.
Li stated that the police officer, as well as an FBI agent who Saipov requested to hang an “ISIS” flag in his hospital room, will be among the witnesses who will describe the events of that day. “He was pleased with his attack. He told an FBI agent that he wanted to kill as many people as he could “The prosecutor added that the witness will testify that Saipov smirked as he described his demise.
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The trial follows a six-month jury selection procedure aimed at weeding out those who cannot be impartial. Judge Vernon S. Broderick has warned them that if Saipov is convicted, there would be a second “punishment phase” of the trial in which jurors will be asked to decide whether Saipov should be sentenced to life in prison or executed. Broderick stated that unless they unanimously voted for death, the sentence would be life in prison.
According to Saipov’s lawyers, the death penalty procedure was irreparably corrupted by ex-President Donald Trump’s tweet a day after the assault that Saipov “SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!” In 2001, just weeks before the September 11 attacks, a Manhattan federal court jury rejected to sentence two men to death for the horrific bombings of two US embassies in Africa.
During a pretrial hearing in 2019, Saipov stated that “thousands and thousands of Muslims are dying all over the world” and questioned why he should be judged for eight deaths. Li stated in his opening statement that jurors will hear information concerning Saipov’s goal to gain the favor of the Islamic State group after legally relocating to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010. He resided in Ohio and Florida before settling in Paterson, New Jersey, with his family.
According to the prosecutor, Saipov’s telephones included evidence that he saw and saved hundreds of photos of Islamic State propaganda, including appeals to use automobiles and trucks as weapons in terrorist strikes in the United States. A defense attorney was yet to make his opening statement.