NEW YORK (AP) — Jurors deliberated Thursday without reaching a decision in the death penalty phase of a man convicted of killing eight people on a Manhattan bike path in 2017.
The panel had to restart their talks at midday to decide the fate of Sayfullo Saipov after a juror earlier reported that he could not continue after learning that his brother had a heart attack. An alternate juror was added to the jury to restore it to 12 people.
Shortly before noon, jurors started to decide anew whether the 35-year-old Uzbekistan citizen will get the death penalty or will spend the rest of his life behind bars at a maximum-security prison. The addition of a juror required them to scrap the results of 2 1/2 hours they spent discussing the matter on Wednesday.
Five hours later, they told Judge Vernon S. Broderick in a note that they would not reach a decision Thursday. He told them they could go home and return Monday.
The onetime Paterson, New Jersey, resident was convicted in late January of charges that he left eight people dead and about 18 others seriously injured when he ran a rented truck onto a bike path along the West Side Highway in lower Manhattan on Halloween 2017. Prosecutors said he did it to win favor with the Islamic State terrorist group.
Killed were a woman visiting from Belgium with her family, five friends from Argentina and two Americans.
The jury asked in a note Thursday whether Saipov’s threats to behead and attack guards at the federal jail where he has resided for the last five years constitutes a criminal act of violence. They were told that it does not.
Prosecutors have argued that he deserves death for the worst kind of crime imaginable against innocent people.
Defense lawyers argued that the life of someone who aspired to be a martyr should be spared, and he should be forced to finish his life in a high-security prison where someday he may realize the harm he did was wrong.
A day after Saipov’s attack, then-President Donald Trump tweeted that Saipov “SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!”
After Joe Biden became president, his attorney general, Merrick Garland, announced a moratorium on federal executions, though he has allowed U.S. prosecutors to continue advocating for capital punishment in cases inherited from previous administrations.