A jury said on Monday that it could not reach a unanimous decision on whether to impose the death sentence on an Islamist extremist who killed eight people using a speeding truck on a popular New York City bicycle path.
Jurors told a federal judge they were unable to agree on whether Sayfullo Saipov should live or die for the October 2017 attack.
A unanimous verdict is required for a death sentence. The split among jurors means Saipov gets an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
It was the first such federal terrorism trial since Joe Biden became president and featured emotional testimony from survivors of the attack and relatives of those killed.
Saipov, 35, was convicted in January of killing five Argentinian tourists, two Americans and a Belgian woman in the attack. He had become loyal to the Islamic State.
The jury returned last month for the penalty phase to decide whether he should be sentenced to death or spend the rest of his life at a maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado.
Inspired by Islamic State group propaganda, Saipov drove a truck down a busy path that runs down the west side of Manhattan, close to the Hudson River, and is popular with cyclists, joggers, inline skaters and other leisure users.
The path is segregated from the traffic on the busy multi-lane roadway next to it, but Saipov steered a truck he had rented in New Jersey from the normal traffic on to the pedestrian and bike path, speeding for more than a mile and running over cyclists, before ultimately crashing into a school bus and running from the vehicle.
He is a citizen of Uzbekistan but lived in New Jersey.
The then New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, said at the time in 2017 that the incident was being treated as “a particularly cowardly act of terror”. A police officer assigned to the area ran to the grisly scene and stopped the attacker by shooting him in the stomach.
Saipov’s responsibility for the killings was never in doubt. His lawyers conceded he committed the deed in a bid for martyrdom and had planned to continue driving to the Brooklyn Bridge trying to kill as many people as he could.
Prosecutors said he smiled as he asked that an Islamic State group flag be posted on the wall of his hospital room after being shot.
Saipov did not express remorse during his trial and defense attorney David Patton urged a life sentence, saying his client then will “die in prison in obscurity, not as a martyr, not as a hero to anyone”.
New York no longer has capital punishment for state-level crimes and last executed a prisoner in 1963.
Donald Trump had called, as president, for Saipov’s execution. Joe Biden pledged during his campaign to work toward abolishing federal capital punishment, and no federal executions have taken place since he took office.
( Information from politico.com was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )