NYC truck terror attacker is ‘proud terrorist’ who deserves death
Sayfullo Saipov is “a proud terrorist” who deserves the death penalty for the “unremorseful slaughter of innocent civilians” during a Halloween 2017 terror attack in New York City, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday.
Saipov was convicted in January of killing eight people and trying to kill 18 more in the ISIS-inspired truck attack on a bike path adjacent to the Hudson River. It was the deadliest terror attack in New York since Sept. 11, 2001.
During closing arguments in the penalty phase, the prosecutor, Amanda Houle, showed photographs of each of the deceased victims that depicted them in the bloodied, twisted state in which they were found.
“It is brutal to look at these photographs but it is important because that brutality is exactly what the defendant intended,” Houle said. “With each death he made himself more culpable, more deserving of the ultimate punishment.”
Saipov, in a dark jacket and white shirt, sat at the defense table with his bowed, hands in his lap and mask covering his face. Nine of the 28 counts he was convicted of carry the possibility of the death penalty.
“Murder is always terrible but when the defendant made the choice to murder multiple people he exposed himself to a harsher punishment,” Houle said. “He stole eight lives.”
Houle showed photographs of the victims with their families and reminded the jury of the anguished testimony of victims’ relatives. Hernan Ferruchi’s widow testified her “life came crashing down.” Diego Angelini’s widow testified “she still thinks about Diego every single day” and how their children, ages 11, 9, 7 and 5 cry because they miss him.
“The defendant chose to take so much from all of these families,” Houle said.
Ann-Laure Decadt’s newborn son Joseph was weeks old when his mother was killed in the attack. The jury saw photos of mother and baby. Her mother and sister were on the bike path with her and watched her die.
“A word has not yet been invented to describe the pain she feels,” Houle said of Decadt’s mother’s testimony.
A death sentence for Saipov, a citizen of Uzbekistan, would be the first by a federal jury in New York in decades. Federal juries in Brooklyn approved a death sentence for a man who murdered two New York police detectives, in 2007 and in 2013, but both sentences were tossed out on appeal.
Saipov’s guilt was never in doubt. His lawyers conceded he rented the truck, drove it onto the bike path and killed the cyclists before crashing into a school bus near Stuyvesant High School. The jury saw video of the mangled bus with children inside.