Multiple life sentences sought for NYC truck terror attacker


(NEW YORK) — Sayfullo Saipov, the Uzbekistan native who planned and carried out a 2017 ISIS-inspired terror attack on the west side of Manhattan, deserves multiple life sentences “to provide just punishment” for killing eight people, federal prosecutors said Monday in a sentencing memorandum to the judge.

Judge Vernon Broderick is scheduled to impose a sentence on Wednesday after more than two dozen relatives of victims deliver statements to the court. Most of them will be traveling from Argentina or Belgium, the native countries of the tourist victims.

Saipov was convicted in January of all 28 counts he faced in connection to carrying out the deadly attack along a Hudson River bike path with a truck he had rented, but escaped the death penalty after jurors deadlocked on sentencing for the nine charges Saipov faced that were eligible for capital punishment.

“The defendant’s conduct before, during and after his attack warrants a sentence that reflects the extraordinary depravity of his crimes. The government respectfully requests that the court impose the maximum statutory penalty on each count of conviction,” prosecutors said in the sentencing memorandum.

Saipov was a “proud terrorist” who “chose to come to this country and then fight for an enemy,” prosecutor Amanda Houle said during the trial. Once the judge imposes the sentence, Saipov will spend at least 22 hours a day alone in his cell at ADX in Florence, Colorado.

The jury agreed Saipov intentionally killed his victims after “substantial planning and premeditation” and did it for ISIS. However, the jury did not unanimously find Saipov represented a future danger or would likely commit acts of violence while in prison.

The defense conceded that the grief of the victims’ families “was entirely caused by Sayfullo Saipov,” but defense attorney David Patton argued it was not necessary to kill him, “not for our safety or anyone else’s and not to do justice.”

On the morning of Oct. 31, 2017, Saipov rented a Home Depot truck weighing more than 5,000 pounds that he drove from New Jersey into Manhattan, according to trial testimony. He turned onto the Hudson River bike path near the entrance of Pier 40, traveling approximately 31 miles per hour, prosecutors said.

Within moments, Saipov struck his first victim, Ann-Laure Decadt, a mother of two visiting from Belgium, whose mother and two sisters watched her die.

Saipov also killed five friends from Argentina who were in New York celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation: Hernan Mendoza, Alejandro Pagnucco, Hernan Ferruchi, Diego Angelini and Ariel Erlij.

Saipov sped up to 57 mph when he struck and killed a 32-year-old New Jersey native, Darren Drake, who was enjoying a bike ride on a break from work. Nicholas Cleves, a 23-year-old New Yorker, was killed riding back to his family business after running errands.

Saipov sped up to 66 mph and crashed the truck into a school bus carrying two adults and two special needs children. He emerged from the truck carrying two fake guns and was shot by police.

The sentencing memorandum included statements Saipov made after the attack.

“Saipov admitted that his goal was to kill as many people as possible, and that he was happy with what he had done. Saipov smiled and asked to hang an ISIS flag in his hospital room. Saipov admitted that he had decided to commit an attack a full year before he executed it, and that he had spent two months planning his truck attack,” prosecutors said.

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