NYC bike path terror attack: Jury to start deliberating in trial for Sayfullo Saipov

Closing arguments wrapped Tuesday in the trial for New York City bike path terror attack suspect Sayfullo Saipov, accused of murdering eight people and injuring many more.

The jury was set to begin deliberating on Wednesday, CBS News reported.

In the three-hour closing argument Tuesday, prosecution said Saipov turned the “bike path into his battlefield” on behalf of ISIS, according to the outlet.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Richman said Saipov was smiling when he asked to hang the flag of the Islamic State group in his Manhattan hospital room after the Oct. 31, 2017, attack he carried out with a speeding rental truck. Prosecutors say it was the worst terrorist attack to strike New York since 9/11.


Saipov, 34, steered the truck onto a bike path along the Hudson River and the West Side Highway that is popular with tourists and Manhattan residents, mowing down bike riders.

Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Sayfullo Saipov
(St. Charles County, Mo., Department of Corrections / KMOV via AP / File)

Earlier in the trial, the jury was played shocking video that showed the rental truck barreling toward the bike path at high speed, striking a yellow school bus filled with children.

Richman urged jurors to convict Saipov of all charges in a case that could result in the death penalty. If the jury returns a guilty verdict on all charges after starting deliberations, a penalty phase of the trial will begin a week later. Unless jurors unanimously choose death, the sentence would be life in prison.

Individuals who were injured or lost loved ones at the hands of the Uzbek man were among those who testified during the trial.

A law enforcement officer walks by a crime scene, Nov. 1, 2017, after a driver mowed down people on a riverfront bike path near the World Trade Center in New York.
(AP Photo / Mark Lennihan / File)

“He targeted his victims without mercy,” Richman said. That night, the prosecutor added, “he smiled. He was proud. He was happy with what he had done that day. He was happy about the terrorist attack. … He had done what he came to do.”

Richman said Saipov only stopped his motorized rampage when he struck a small school bus, injuring children. Otherwise, he said, Saipov planned to head to the Brooklyn Bridge and kill as many people as he could there. He was arrested after he pointed black pellet and paintball guns at a police officer, who shot him.

In this courtroom sketch, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Richmond gives the government summations in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in New York, holding up a knife that defendant Sayfullo Saipov allegedly possessed during his attack.
(Elizabeth Williams via AP)

During the trial, defense lawyers haven’t contested that Saipov carried out the attack.

But they say he should be acquitted of a racketeering charge because prosecutors were wrong to claim that he carried out the attack so that the Islamic State group would let him become a member.

Defense lawyer David Patton said Saipov was expecting to die in the attack.

In this courtroom sketch, defendant Sayfullo Saipov listens during closing statements in Manhattan federal court, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in New York.
(Elizabeth Williams via AP)

“He did not expect to be here before all of you and did not expect to be joining any organization,” Patton said. And that, he added, means Saipov is not guilty of racketeering.

Patton said that to do something “as awful” as what his client did, he had to already consider himself a member of the Islamic State group.


He said Saipov had an “expectation that he would die by police shooting.”

Saipov, who has been imprisoned without bail since the attack, legally moved to the U.S. from Uzbekistan in 2010. He lived in Ohio and Florida before joining his family in Paterson, New Jersey.

Fox News’ Maria Paronich and the Associated Press contributed to this report.