Attorneys for accused West Side bike-path terrorist Sayfullo Saipov said in a court filing on Wednesday that they are trying to convince prosecutors to accept a plea deal for a guilty plea and a sentence of life in prison without parole instead of seeking the death penalty.
The letter from Saipov’s attorney, federal defender David Patton, urging Manhattan U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick to not yet set a trial date was the first indication that Saipov is prepared to plead to the attack that killed eight people last year, instead of potentially facing the death penalty at trial.
“The most straightforward way to achieve closure would be for the Government to accept a plea of guilty and a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole,” Patton wrote. “That outcome would obviate the need for the victims’ families to prepare for and participate in a trial and prevent years of appeals and other post-conviction litigation . . . in the event of a death sentence.”
Saipov, 29, of Paterson, N.J., was indicted on a charge of murder and attempted murder in aid of racketeering for mowing down victims on a bike path in October. In addition to eight dead, 12 were injured in the attack. Saipov has said he supports the Islamic State and wanted to achieve maximum carnage.
President Donald Trump has called for the death penalty in the case, but prosecutors have not yet signaled whether they will ask for capital punishment.