The Home Depot truck was used to deliberately mow down pedestrians, leaving eight people dead and more than a dozen injured in Lower Manhattan on Halloween day 2017. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 13 (UPI) -- The man convicted last month of using his truck to run over and kill eight people on a New York City bike path in 2017 will serve life in prison, a federal jury ruled Monday.
Sayfullo Saipov avoided the death penalty with the Manhattan jury's unanimous decision. Instead he will serve his time without the possibility of parole, ABC News reports.
The jury would have needed to decide unanimously to sentence Saipov to death, which it was unable to reach. Nine of the 28 convictions against him were eligible for a death penalty sentence.
In the jury's ruling, it decided a "sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of release is a harsh punishment," according to ABC 7. The jury determined that Saipov's actions required a significant amount of premeditation.
The 35-year-old from Uzbekistan committed the attack in the name of ISIS, the Justice Department said in a press release Monday.
"This evil act was fueled by Saipov's allegiance to ISIS, an allegiance which Saipov proudly maintained after the attack and up through his trial," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. "Today a jury has declined to authorize the death penalty for Saipov, and accordingly the defendant will be subject to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole."
A verdict to execute Saipov was expected to be difficult because it takes only one vote to spare his life for the heinous attack in which he barreled down the Hudson River Greenway in a Home Depot rental truck, hitting about a dozen pedestrians and bicyclists before crashing into a school bus, ending the frenzy.
The intentional siege on Halloween day killed two Americans, a woman from Belgium and five friends from Argentina, while several others were left critically injured, including a woman who lost her legs.
The death penalty was outlawed in New York in 2004, but capital punishment can still be levied there at the federal level. In screening for prospective jurors, government attorneys are also constitutionally empowered to summarily dismiss any juror who might oppose the death penalty, which heavily favors the prosecution in such cases.
The last time the state imposed the death penalty was 1963, when Eddie Lee Mays was executed for killing a woman inside a Harlem tavern; and the last time the government carried out an execution in the state was 1954, when bank robber Gerhard Puff was put to death for killing an FBI agent.
The most notorious federal executions in the Manhattan district occurred in 1953 when Julius and Ethel Rosenberg both died in the electric chair after they were convicted of spying for the Soviet Union.
However, other attempts at the death penalty in the Southern District have instead resulted in life sentences. One of those cases involves two al-Qaeda operatives who were convicted of helping Osama bin Laden carry out the deadly 1998 bombings on two U.S. embassies in Africa.
There's also two capital cases from 2004 and 2005, one in which a police informant was killed by two Bronx drug dealers and another in which a father and son murdered three people in a drug deal gone bad. Today, each of these defendants is serving life in prison after federal juries were unable to deliver unanimous death penalty verdicts.
The Justice Department has not brought any new capital punishment cases under President Joe Biden, and although the administration has curtailed the death penalty, Attorney General Merrick Garland has indicated previously that he will not stand in the way of any executions imposed before Biden took office.