LOWER MANHATTAN, Manhattan — The jury session began on Wednesday a man is on trial for a deadly terrorist attack in Manhattan.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Richman said Saifullah Saipov was smiling as he asked for an Islamic State flag to be displayed in his Manhattan hospital room after the Oct. 31, 2017, attack he carried out in a speeding rental truck.
Saipov, 34, steered the truck onto the bike path along the Hudson River and the West Side Highway, popular with tourists and Manhattanites, hitting cyclists.
Richman urged jurors to find Saipov guilty of all charges in the case, which could carry the death penalty. If the jury returns a guilty verdict on all charges after beginning deliberations Wednesday, the penalty phase will begin a week later. Unless the jury unanimously chooses the death penalty, the sentence will be life imprisonment.
Individuals who were injured or lost loved ones at the hands of the Uzbeks were among those who testified during the trial.
Saipov only stopped his motorized rampage when he hit a small school bus, injuring the children, Richman said. Otherwise, he said, Saipov planned to head for the Brooklyn Bridge and kill as many people there as possible. He was arrested after pointing black pellet guns and a paintball gun at a police officer who shot him.
During the trial, the defense did not dispute that Saipov had committed the attack.
But they say he should be acquitted of racketeering charges because prosecutors were wrong to say he carried out the attack so the Islamic State group would allow him to become a member.
Defense lawyer David Patton said Saipov expected to die in the attack.
“He didn’t expect to be here before all of you, and he didn’t expect to join any organization,” Patton said. And this, he added, means that Saipov is not guilty of racketeering.
Patton said that in order to do something “as horrific” as what his client did, he must already consider himself a member of the Islamic State group.
He said Saipov had “expected to die from police firing.”
Saipov, who has been in prison without bail since the attack, moved to the United States legally from Uzbekistan in 2010. He lived in Ohio and Florida before joining his family in Paterson, New Jersey.
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