NEW YORK (WABC) – Jurors are now deliberating the fate of a convicted terrorist who mowed down people on a West Side bike path.

A jury previously found Saiful Saipov guilty of killing eight people while riding on a bike path in 2017.

Minutes after deliberating, jurors sent a note to the judge asking two questions: whether they could discuss the execution of federal prisoners and whether they could mention the current moratorium on executions imposed by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

In response to their memo, Judge Vernon Broderick instructed the jury to disregard lethal injection and the moratorium on the death penalty imposed by the Biden administration.

“These opinions are not suitable for your reasoning, and you should not discuss either,” said Broderick. He then sent the jury back to deliberate.

The jury was later dismissed for the first day of deliberations just before 6pm on Wednesday.

The jury will reconvene on Thursday and continue deliberations.

Federal juries in New York are so rarely asked to consider the death penalty that the judge himself, outside the presence of the jury, expresses confusion about how it is applied.

The men’s federal executions are carried out at USP Terre Haute in Indiana by lethal injection. The judge appears to have believed that he would decide how Saipov should be executed because New York State does not have the death penalty. His lawyers appeared to gently correct him, but what they said was inaudible and the judge did not say it to the jury.

In September 2021, Attorney General Garland announced a moratorium on the death penalty to allow officials to review policies and procedures. The Trump administration has issued 13 death sentences in the last year of his presidency. All federal executions since at least 1963 have been carried out by lethal injection.

Jurors must unanimously agree that Saipov should be put to death, or the 35-year-old former Paterson, N.J. resident will spend the rest of his life in a maximum-security prison.

Lawyers for Saipov, a citizen of Uzbekistan, have never disputed that he killed eight people while driving a rented truck along a bike path in lower Manhattan that is popular with tourists. A woman who came from Belgium with her family, five friends from Argentina and two Americans died. Eighteen more were seriously injured.

Saipov’s lawyers asked jurors to spare him the death penalty, noting that several members of his family, including his father and sisters, expressed hope that one day he would realize how wrong he was to carry out the attack in hopes of currying favor with the Islamic State group. “.

And they stressed that he will spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement, likely in a small cell for at least 22 hours a day with two 15-minute phone calls each month with his family and a few showers allowed each week.

Prosecutors called for the death penalty, saying Saipov never showed compassion for any of his victims as he sought to kill as many people as possible, even admitting he hoped to go to the Brooklyn Bridge after the attack on the bike path so he could kill more there. people.

Afterwards, they said, he smiled proudly as he told FBI agents about his attack, even asking them to hang an Islamic State flag in his hospital room, where he was recovering from a gunshot wound after a police officer stopped his attack.

A day after the attack, then-President Donald Trump tweeted that Saipov “SHOULD HAVE THE DEATH PENALTY!”

President Joe Biden subsequently imposed a moratorium on the death penalty for federal crimes, but his attorney general, Merrick Garland, allowed U.S. prosecutors to continue to advocate for the death penalty in cases inherited from previous administrations.

A federal jury in New York did not return a death sentence that withstood court appeals for decades, with the last execution in 1954. New York State, which no longer has the death penalty, has not executed anyone since 1963.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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