Saipov’s lawyer David Patton did not dispute that his client carried out the devastating attack, but asked jurors to acquit him of racketeering charges alleging he carried out the atrocities to join ISIS. Saipov became radicalized on U.S. soil during a job as a long-haul truck driver when he passed the time by consuming conspiracy theories online, the defense said.
“If you commit an attack and you are planning to die, you are not planning on joining an organization. You are not planning to become a member of any organization,” Patton said.
“Now, I know that as we sit here, you are surely full of anger and disgust at Mr. Saipov and what he did,” the attorney continued. “But it is vitally important not to convict him of crimes he didn’t commit, where the facts don’t meet the law, that we not compromise the rule of law even in the face of very justifiable anger and outrage at what he did.”
Prosecutors are seeking capitol punishment, the first such case under President Joe Biden’s Justice Department.
If the jurors find Saipov guilty of death penalty-eligible crimes, they will reconvene to determine unanimously whether he is executed or sent to prison for life.
During the trial, jurors saw harrowing video of Saipov allegedly plowing down the bike path in a truck he rented from a Passaic, N.J. Home Depot.
Blood-curdling screams are heard on a video of the attack and its aftermath. The jury saw footage of the accused terrorist facing a fusillade of bullets from a city cop after Saipov allegedly crashed into a school bus, ending his trail of death.
Killed in the bloodshed were Darren Drake, 32, of New Jersey, and 23-year-old New Yorker Nicholas Cleves.
Argentine tourists Hernan Diego Mendoza, Alejandro Damian Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, Hernan Ferruchi and Diego Enrique Angelini also died. Only half of the group of 10 high school friends, who’d met in the city to celebrate 30 years of friendship, made it home.
A 31-year-old mother of two, Ann-Laure Decadt, of Belgium, was fatally hit as she rode with her two sisters and mom.
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