NEW YORK — A man who drove a rented truck down a bicycle path in New York City in a terror-inspired attack that killed eight people in 2017 was convicted of murder on Thursday in federal court.
Sayfullo Saipov, 34, an Uzbekistan native, was charged with 28 federal crimes, including murder in aid of racketeering and supporting a foreign terrorist organization, according to WPIX-TV.
He was found guilty on all counts. The death penalty phase is expected to begin Feb. 6, WNBC-TV reported.
Saipov, who was living in New Jersey at the time of the Halloween attack, drove a Home Depot rental pickup truck at least 10 blocks on the Greenway bicycle path along the Hudson River in Manhattan, hitting nearly a dozen pedestrians before crashing into a school bus, according to WNBC.
Saipov said after his arrest that he was inspired to attack by Islamic State videos that he watched on his phone and that he chose a truck to inflict maximum damage against civilians, according to The New York Times.
It was the worst terrorist attack in New York City since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center.
The victims included six tourists -- one from Belgium and five from Argentina -- a 23-year-old software engineer from Manhattan, and a 32-year-old financial worker from New Jersey, the newspaper reported.
The jury reached its verdict after deliberating for six hours over two days, WABC-TV reported.
The defense called no witnesses but said Saipov did not carry out the attack to join ISIS. He intended to die as a martyr, according to the television station.
“It wasn’t an accident. He did it intentionally,” defense attorney David Patton said, according to WNBC. “At the end of the day, there is no making sense of such a senseless act.”
Saipov is the first defendant to face a federal death penalty trial during the administration of President Joe Biden, who had campaigned against capital punishment, the Times reported. Former President Donald Trump called for the death penalty after Saipov was arrested, WPIX reported.
A unanimous vote of the 12 jurors is required for the death penalty, the Times reported.
New York no longer has capital punishment and the last state execution was in 1963, according to The Associated Press. A federal jury in New York has not sentenced a person to death that withstood legal appeals in decades. The last execution was carried out in 1954, according to the news organization.
Saipov, wearing a dark jacket and white shirt, wore a mask over his face and had no visible reaction, according to the newspaper. He bowed his head as the verdicts were read.
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