Prosecutors to seek death penalty for accused New York bike path attacker
Sayfullo Saipov, the suspect in the New York City truck attack is seen in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters November 1, 2017. New York PD/Handout via REUTERS

U.S. prosecutors on Friday said they would seek the death penalty for Sayfullo Saipov, the man accused of killing eight people by driving a truck into a New York City bike path last October.

Saipov, a 30-year-old Uzbek national, was arrested immediately after police said he plowed a truck down a bike lane in lower Manhattan. The militant group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which was the deadliest assault on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001.

In a filing in Manhattan federal court, the prosecutors said Saipov’s killing of multiple people, the “heinous, cruel and depraved manner” in which he carried out the attack and his professed support of Islamic State were all factors weighing in favor of a death sentence.

While New York state law does not have a death penalty, Saipov has been charged under federal law.

Saipov’s attorneys had previously offered a plea deal in which Saipov would accept a sentence of life in prison if prosecutors would agree not to seek the death penalty.

“We think the decision to seek the death penalty rather than accepting a guilty plea to life in prison with no possibility of release will only prolong the trauma of these events for everyone involved,” Saipov’s lawyer, David Patton, said in an email on Friday.

Saipov was charged in an indictment with eight counts of murder and other crimes including attempted murder and providing material support to Islamic State. He has pleaded not guilty.

Following the attack, Saipov told investigators he was inspired by watching Islamic State videos and began planning the attack a year earlier, according to a criminal complaint filed by prosecutors the day after the attack.

Reporting by Brendan Pierson, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien