Sayfullo Saipov gets 8 life sentences for deadly 2017 truck rampage

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Thursday, May 18, 2023
Sayfullo Saipov gets 8 life sentences for 2017 truck rampage
Sayfullo Saipov, the man convicted in the 2017 terrorist truck attack that killed eight people, is set to be sentenced on Wednesday. Jim Dolan has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A judge imposed eight life sentences for the man convicted in the deadly 2017 bike path terror attack in New York City.

Relatives of eight people killed in the Halloween terror attack on a New York City bike path as well as those who were injured spoke at the sentencing hearing for an Islamic extremist.

Sayfullo Saipov's sentencing in Manhattan federal court came after a jury in March rejected the death penalty for the Uzbekistan citizen and onetime New Jersey resident, leaving him with a mandatory life sentence.

Saipov, a 35-year-old Uzbekistan native and one-time Paterson resident, was convicted on 28 counts earlier this year, including eight counts of murder.

Prosecutors urged Judge Vernon S. Broderick to impose a sentence of eight consecutive life sentences - one for each death - and an additional 260 years in prison, according to a presentence submission.

Sayfullo Saipov, the man convicted in the 2017 terrorist truck attack that killed eight people, is set to be sentenced on Wednesday. N.J. Burkett has the story.

"Saipov is an unabashed terrorist - a proud murderer who deserves no leniency and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," prosecutors wrote.

On Halloween in 2017, Saipov drove a rented truck across the George Washington Bridge and down the West Side before he intentionally veered onto the Hudson River bike path and murdered those people, many of them tourists from Argentina, Belgium and Germany.

Among the 18 others injured in Saipov's attack, one woman had to have her legs amputated. Another victim suffered brain hemorrhaging, many have scars for life.

The carnage came to an end when a police officer shot Saipov. He was immediately taken into custody after emerging from his truck shouting "God is great" in Arabic and waving paintball and pellet guns in the air.

Prosecutors said he smiled as he asked FBI agents who questioned him in a hospital room after the attack if they could hang an Islamic State group flag on the walls

In March, a jury deadlocked on whether to impose the death penalty.

It needed to have been a unanimous decision and it's been decades since any jury has imposed the death penalty in New York. Instead, Saipov will serve a minimum life sentence.

Impact statements

On Wednesday, relatives of the victims spoke, sometimes through tears at the sentencing hearing.

Frank Decadt, father of victim Ann-Laure Decadt, told Sayfullo Saipov that he hoped that "one day you will understand the extent of horror you have inflicted on so many people."

Marion Van Reeth, who lost her legs in the attack, sat before Saipov in her wheelchair, telling him: "I will never be able to walk like you can."

As Saipov kept his head drooped and eyes lowered, listening to a translation of the proceedings through earphones, she said: "I have a question for you. After all this time in prison, are you still convinced that your criminal acts against innocent people was the right thing?"

Like others, she expressed hope that someday Saipov would see that his terrorist act was wrong.

"I am a mother subsumed by grief," Monica Missio said as she introduced herself to the court. "I'm going to grieve for Nicholas for the rest of my life because my love for him is endless."

Missio's son, Nicholas Cleves, was the last of the eight people killed when Saipov sped down a Hudson River bike path in a rented truck.

Cleves was the only New Yorker killed in the attack, the deadliest terror attack in the city since 9/11. His mother said he grew up a few blocks from where he was struck and killed as the truck hurtled at 66 miles per hour.

"People witnessed him getting struck and catapulted into the air," Missio said. "I am haunted by the brutal way Nicholas died." She added that she has "nothing but contempt" for Saipov.

Cleves' aunt, Nicole Missio, called Saipov and his attack evil.

"I don't care if the monster lives or dies. I never did," she said. "But I'm especially disturbed by the thought that if his relatives knew or could see that he was radicalized then they have blood on their hands too."

Ana Evans, the window of Hernan Mendoza, could not make it to court in person so submitted a statement in writing: "I can only think of Hernan and our children, who can never again exchange glances, gestures, smiles or signs of support with their father. Equally incredible and terrifying is the disaster that a single person can cause."

Gabriela Pabla Pereya, the wife of Ariel Erlij, who was among five men from Argentina killed during a bike ride as they celebrated the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation, delivered the shortest statement during the sentencing hearing. She called Saipov a coward and said if he truly wanted God "to accept and love you, go kill yourself."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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