NEW YORK — The man who killed eight people on a Manhattan bike lane five years ago in an effort to influence a terrorist group was happy and proud when he met FBI agents earlier that day, a prosecutor told a jury in a closing argument Tuesday. told.
Assistant US Attorney Jason Richman said Saifulo Saipov was smiling as he asked to hang the Islamic State group flag in his Manhattan hospital room after the October 31, 2017 attack, which he carried out with a speeding truck .
Saipov, 34, drove the truck onto a bike path along the Hudson River and the West Side Freeway, which is popular with tourists and Manhattanites, and struck the cyclists.
Richman urged the jury to convict Saipov on all counts, which could result in the death penalty. If the jury returns a guilty verdict on all counts after deliberations begin on Wednesday, the penalty phase of the trial will begin a week later. Unless the jurors unanimously choose death, the sentence shall be life imprisonment.
Testimony at the trial included people who had been injured or lost loved ones at the hands of the Uzbek man.
“He targeted his victims ruthlessly,” Richman said. That night, the prosecutor said, “He smiled. I was proud. He was happy about what he had done that day. He was happy about the terrorist attack… He did what he had come to do.”
Richman said that Saipov only stopped his motorized rampage when he hit a small school bus, injuring children. Otherwise, he said, Saipov planned to head to the Brooklyn Bridge and kill as many people as he could there. He was arrested after he pointed a paintball gun and black pellets at a police officer, who shot him.
During the trial, defense attorneys did not deny that Saipov carried out the attack.
But they say he should be cleared of the extortion charge because prosecutors were wrong to say he carried out the attack so the Islamic State group would allow him to become a member.
Defense attorney David Patton said Saipov was likely killed in the attack.
“He didn’t expect to be here in front of all of you, nor did he expect to join an organization,” Patton said. And, he said, that means Saipov is not guilty of extortion.
Patton said that in order to do something “horrible” as his client did, he had to already consider himself a member of the Islamic State group.
He added that Saipov “expected that he would be shot by the police.”
Saipov, who has been jailed without bail since the attack, legally moved from Uzbekistan to the United States in 2010. He lived in Ohio and Florida before joining his family in Paterson, New Jersey.