NEW YORK (WABC) – A jury will begin deliberating this week on whether Uzbekistan-born Saiful Saipov carried out the bloodiest terrorist attack in New York since September 11deserves the death penalty.
The same jury convicted Saipov in January of driving a rented truck on a Manhattan bike path adjacent to the Hudson River during an ISIS-inspired terror attack that killed eight people. Nine of the 28 counts on which Saipov was convicted make him eligible for the death penalty.
Closing arguments in the penalty phase of the case are scheduled for Tuesday, when prosecutors are expected to again tell jurors that Saipov is too dangerous for prison.
(Video above from previous coverage.)
“He’s still threatening to destroy people in prisons, threatening to cut the throats of correctional officers,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Howle said during her opening statement. “He is unrepentant and the evidence shows he is dangerous even in prison.”
After federal prosecutors said Saipov “committed a brutal terrorist attack in this city for ISIS,” the defense sought a softer portrayal of him, calling his mother, Mukaddas Saipov, to testify.
She told the jury about the pleasant conversations she had with her son while he was working as a truck driver, her grandchildren and her desire for him and his family to return to Uzbekistan with her.
“If I had insisted that he go with me, if I had said: ‘Take your family and children and come to Tashkent,’ maybe it would not have happened,” said Saipava.
She told jurors she learned about her son’s attack on television.
“I saw it on TV, and after that I don’t remember much. Because I apparently passed out, and they called an ambulance. I was taken to the hospital. And the husband was taken to the police,” Saipova testified. She was in the hospital for a week.
“He’s a very nice boy and I didn’t believe he would do something like this.”
She said she still loved her son and asked the jury to spare him the death penalty so she would “know he’s alive and I’ll know he’s breathing with me and then I’ll tell his kids he’s alive , and I will tell them – and I think that in many years he will come out as an old Saiful.
Saipov did not testify at the trial.
Ana Evans, whose husband Hernán Mendoza was killed in an attack while visiting New York from Argentina, described the difficulty of telling her three children about their father’s death and how her youngest daughter kept saying it was “very unfair that she now not longer than her dad because of “saipava”.
“Absolutely everything in my life has changed. It is as if a blow tore me apart, my soul, my spirit, my heart hovered outside me for a long time. I felt lost,” Evans testified.
Another witness, Rachel Farne, said she saw the truck hit two cyclists before she was hit and suffered a broken foot and ankle. She told jurors she remembers the attack daily.
“Many times it was hard to find the will to live,” Farn said.
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