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Attorneys of Alleged NY Attacker Propose Deal to Avoid Death Penalty


FILE - Sayfullo Saipov, the suspect in the New York City truck attack, is seen in this handout photo released Nov. 1, 2017, by the St. Charles County (Mo.) Department of Corrections.

Lawyers for the Uzbek man accused of killing eight people by speeding a truck down a New York City bike path in October proposed a plea deal on Wednesday in which their client would accept life in prison without parole if
prosecutors did not seek the death penalty.

The lawyers for Sayfullo Saipov, 29, made their proposal in a court filing opposing prosecutors' request on Tuesday that U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick set an April 2019 trial date. The prosecutors had cited victims' "strong desire for closure."

Saipov's lawyers said that the requested date would not leave enough time to prepare for trial in a possible death penalty case, and that the fastest way to resolve the case would be for prosecutors to accept their proposed deal.

"In short, a decision by the government not to seek the death penalty would bring immediate closure to the case without the need for the public and victims to repeatedly relive the terrible events of October 31, 2017," the lawyers wrote.

The office of interim U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan, which is prosecuting the case, is expected to make a recommendation on whether to seek the death penalty, though the final decision will be made by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

FILE - Investigators work around the wreckage of a Home Depot pickup truck that alleged terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov used to mow down people on a bike path in New York City, Nov. 1, 2017. (R. Taylor / VOA)
FILE - Investigators work around the wreckage of a Home Depot pickup truck that alleged terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov used to mow down people on a bike path in New York City, Nov. 1, 2017. (R. Taylor / VOA)

Both Berman and Sessions were appointed by President Donald Trump, who on Twitter called for Saipov to face the death penalty.

Berman's office declined to comment. A lawyer for Saipov could not be reached for comment.

Saipov, a legal permanent U.S. resident, was arrested immediately after the October 31 attack in which police said he plowed a truck down a bike lane on Manhattan's West Side. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which was the deadliest assault on New York City since September 11, 2001.

On November 21, Saipov was charged in an indictment with eight counts of murder, 12 counts of attempted murder, one count of providing material support to Islamic State and one count of violence and destruction of a motor vehicle resulting in death. He pleaded not guilty on November 28.

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.

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