Jury in Bike-Path Killer’s Case Stalls as It Considers Death Penalty
A Manhattan jury weighing the fate of Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek man who used a truck to kill eight people in a 2017 terrorist attack on a Hudson River bike path, told a judge on Monday afternoon that it was unable to reach a unanimous decision on whether Mr. Saipov should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without the chance of release.
The judge, Vernon S. Broderick of Federal District Court, asked federal prosecutors and Mr. Saipov’s lawyers to confer on what should happen next, which could include the judge’s ordering the jurors to continue to deliberate in an effort to reach a unanimous decision.
Mr. Saipov’s lawyers, in a letter to the judge, opposed further deliberations. “Indeed,” the lawyers wrote, “a note expressing non-unanimity would require the court to dismiss the jury and impose a life sentence, rather than to direct the jury to continue deliberating.”
To direct the jury to continue to deliberate, the defense lawyers wrote, would be “inherently coercive” as it would “clearly pressure life-voting jurors to re-examine their votes, and signal to the death-voting ones to keep pressing until their fellow jurors fell in line.”
Prosecutors have asked the jury to impose the death penalty; a death sentence would require the unanimous votes of all 12 jurors.
The government, in a letter to the judge, did not propose that he give any particular instruction to the jury about continuing to deliberate, but prosecutors offered what they said were pertinent legal authorities on the issue.
The jury reported the impasse to the judge at around 2:15 p.m. on the second full day of deliberations in the case of Mr. Saipov, 35, who was convicted on Jan. 26 of all 28 counts he faced, including nine that carried a potential death sentence.
During the penalty phase of the trial, which began on Feb. 13, the government presented emotional testimony from victims and survivors of the attack, while Mr. Saipov’s lawyers called various members of Mr. Saipov’s family to testify, in an attempt to humanize him before the jury.
Six of the eight fatalities were victims from Argentina and Belgium; the other two were a 23-year-old software engineer from Manhattan and a 32-year-old financial worker from New Jersey.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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