Prosecutors want death penalty in NYC bike path attack that killed 8

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NEW YORK — A man charged with using a truck to kill eight people last year on a New York City bike path will face the death penalty at a trial next year, federal prosecutors said Friday in a case where President Donald Trump has tweeted that the defendant deserves to be executed.

Image: Sayfullo Saipov
Sayfullo Saipov’s driver license photo

The government filing said the case against Sayfullo Saipov met several legal standards for a capital case, including premeditation to commit terrorism and the “heinous, cruel and depraved manner” in which the victims were killed.

In a statement, defense attorney David Patten said he was disappointed that the Justice Department signed off on seeking the death penalty.

“We think the decision to seek the death penalty rather than accepting a guilty plea to life in prison with no possibility of release will only prolong the trauma of these events for everyone involved,” Patten said.

After Saipov’s arrest in the deadliest attack on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001, Trump tweeted, “SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY” and “Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY.” The tweets were cited in defense papers filed earlier this month that demanded an independent prosecutor make a decision, arguing that Sessions’ tenuous relationship with Trump made it impossible for DOJ to be fair.


Sessions “works for President Trump and obviously wants to keep his job,” Saipov’s federal public defenders wrote. “It defies reality, not to mention all appearances, to believe that he could make a truly independent decision as to whether Mr. Saipov should face the death penalty, knowing that a decision not to seek death would inevitably trigger a ‘tweetstorm’ of ridicule and scorn from the President and might well lead to the loss of his job.”