Sayfullo Saipov to be sentenced in NYC bike path terror attack that killed 8 in 2017
Relatives of eight people killed in a Halloween terror attack on a New York City bike path as well as those who were injured are expected to speak at a Wednesday sentencing hearing for an Islamic extremist who prosecutors say deserves multiple life sentences.
Sayfullo Saipov’s sentencing in Manhattan federal court comes after a jury in March rejected the death penalty for the Uzbekistan citizen and onetime New Jersey resident, leaving him with a mandatory life sentence.
Saipov, a 35-year-old Uzbekistan native and one-time Paterson resident, was convicted on 28 counts earlier this year, including eight counts of murder.
Prosecutors urged Judge Vernon S. Broderick to impose a sentence of eight consecutive life sentences – one for each death – and an additional 260 years in prison, according to a presentence submission.
“Saipov is an unabashed terrorist – a proud murderer who deserves no leniency and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” prosecutors wrote.
On Halloween in 2017, Saipov drove a rented truck across the George Washington Bridge and down the West Side before he intentionally veered onto the Hudson River bike path and murdered those people, many of them tourists from Argentina, Belgium and Germany.
Among the 18 others injured in Saipov’s attack, one woman had to have her legs amputated. Another victim suffered brain hemorrhaging, many have scars for life.
The carnage came to an end when a police officer shot Saipov. He was immediately taken into custody after emerging from his truck shouting “God is great” in Arabic and waving paintball and pellet guns in the air.
Prosecutors said he smiled as he asked FBI agents who questioned him in a hospital room after the attack if they could hang an Islamic State group flag on the walls
In March, a jury deadlocked on whether to impose the death penalty.
It needed to have been a unanimous decision and it’s been decades since any jury has imposed the death penalty in New York. Instead, Saipov will serve a minimum life sentence.
There are no cameras allowed inside federal court, but those sitting in court can expect to hear upwards of 30 victim impact statements from people, from across the world, who were injured or lost loved ones in the attack.
“I am a mother subsumed by grief,” Monica Missio said as she introduced herself to the court. “I’m going to grieve for Nicholas for the rest of my life because my love for him is endless.”
Missio’s son, Nicholas Cleves, was the last of the eight people killed when Saipov sped down a Hudson River bike path in a rented truck.
Cleves was the only New Yorker killed in the attack, the deadliest terror attack in the city since 9/11. His mother said he grew up a few blocks from where he was struck and killed as the truck hurtled at 66 miles per hour.
“People witnessed him getting struck and catapulted into the air,” Missio said. “I am haunted by the brutal way Nicholas died.” She added that she has “nothing but contempt” for Saipov.
Cleves’ aunt, Nicole Missio, called Saipov and his attack evil.
“I don’t care if the monster lives or dies. I never did,” she said. “But I’m especially disturbed by the thought that if his relatives knew or could see that he was radicalized then they have blood on their hands too.”
Ana Evans, the window of Hernan Mendoza, could not make it to court in person so submitted a statement in writing: “I can only think of Hernan and our children, who can never again exchange glances, gestures, smiles or signs of support with their father. Equally incredible and terrifying is the disaster that a single person can cause.”
Though Saipov did not testify at his trial, he will also have the opportunity to speak at the sentencing hearing.