NYC Bike Path Killer Sayfullo Saipov Gets Eight Life Sentences

(Bloomberg) -- The man who drove a truck down a Manhattan bike path in 2017, killing eight people in a terrorist attack inspired by ISIS, will spend the rest of his life in prison after a judge sentenced him to eight consecutive life terms.

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US District Judge Vernon Broderick sentenced Sayfullo Saipov in Manhattan federal court Wednesday, after listening to his rambling justification for his crime and citing his lack of remorse for his victims.

“You did not and you do not care about their suffering that is the direct result of your callous and cowardly attack,” Broderick told Saipov before sentencing him to eight life terms plus an additional 260 years.

The fact that Saipov will spend the rest of his days behind bars was not in question in the hearing. He faced a mandatory life sentence after a jury failed to agree in March on whether he should be sentenced to death for what was the deadliest terrorist attack in New York since Sept. 11, 2001.

Read More: NYC Bike-Path Killer Avoids Death Penalty as Jurors Split

Saipov, a native of Uzbekistan, was convicted in January of all 28 criminal counts against him, including eight counts of murder in aid of racketeering, which carry life sentences. He was also convicted of using a motor vehicle to kill and providing support to ISIS. Saipov received additional life sentences on those two counts, but the time wasn’t added on top of the other eight life terms.

“These eight life sentences account for the eight lives Saipov stole when he committed his vicious ISIS attack,” Manhattan US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “The 260 years in prison constitutes the maximum penalty for the eighteen attempted murders Saipov cruelly committed, which included the attempted murders of four children.”

During the sentencing phase of the case, jurors heard heartbreaking testimony from surviving victims and relatives of those killed on the West Side Highway bike path on Halloween in 2017, just blocks from the Manhattan federal courthouse. Prosecutors had urged jurors to impose the death penalty, saying Saipov is too dangerous for prison.

Instead, the jury split on whether Saipov is likely to commit violence while he’s serving his sentence and was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, which is necessary for a death sentence.

Broderick sentenced Saipov at the end of a day that featured family and friends of the victims pouring out their pain and anger over the deadly attack.

Many of the victims were in New York from Belgium and Argentina, enjoying a bike path that provides stunning views of the Hudson River and New Jersey waterfront.

“It disgusts me that this murderer gets to wake up every morning and my son does not,” said Monica Missio, who lost her only child, Nicholas Cleves. “My beautiful son was only 23 years old.”

Cleves, the only New Yorker killed in the attack, would turn 29 on Friday, she said.

Saipov, dressed in blue prison fatigues and wearing a long beard, spent nearly an hour in a diatribe in which he lectured on the history of Islam, decried violence against Muslims around the world and railed against the actions of unbelievers and the devil.

After Saipov spoke, a spectator shouted out: “The only act of the devil here is the act you did!”

The case is US v. Saipov, 17-cr-00722, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

--With assistance from Hadriana Lowenkron.

(Updates with remarks of victim’s mother in 11th paragraph.)

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