A federal jury in Manhattan on Thursday found a 34-year-old man guilty of murder in the deaths of eight people who were run down on a bike path along the Hudson River by a pickup in 2017, making Sayfullo Saipov eligible for the death penalty. Whether he receives the death penalty or life in prison will be up to the same 12 jurors, who would have to vote unanimously for Saipov to be sent to death row, the New York Times reports, for what officials say was deadliest terrorist attack in New York City since 9/11. "He turned a bike path into his battlefield," federal prosecutor Jason A. Richman said in closing arguments Tuesday. "He was happy about the terrorist attack he unleashed."
New York state doesn't have the death penalty. Its last state execution was in 1963, per the AP, and no federal court's death sentence has been carried out since 1954. But the defense seemed to have an eye on the death penalty phase, which will begin in a few days, per the Times. Public defender David Patton conceded that Saipov, a citizen of Uzbekistan, committed the crime, saying, "His actions were senseless, horrific, and there’s no justification for them." But Patton suggested his client was motivated by Islamic State propaganda rather than a desire to join the terrorist group, which some of the charges said. Saipov killed a 23-year-old software engineer from Manhattan, a 32-year-old financial worker from New Jersey, five tourists from Argentina, and one tourist from Belgium. (Read more Sayfullo Saipov stories.)