Manhattan Bike Path Killer Sentenced To Life In Prison After Jury Split On Death Penalty


A man convicted of murdering eight people on a Manhattan bike path in 2017 was sentenced Monday to life in prison on first-degree murder charges, after a New York City jury returned a split decision in his sentencing trial Monday, sparing him of the death penalty.

Key Facts

Sayfullo Saipov, a member of the Islamic State (or ISIS) convicted in January on eight counts of first-degree murder, will receive life in prison without the possibility of parole, Nicholas Biase, chief of public affairs for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York’s Southern District, confirmed to Forbes.

Jurors could not reach a unanimous decision, which under federal law is necessary for a sentencing of capital punishment.

Saipov, a 35-year-old Uzbekistan resident who had been living in New Jersey, will spend the rest of his life in a federal Supermax facility in Colorado, Reuters reported.

Key Background

Saipov rammed a rented truck into a crowd of pedestrians on Manhattan’s Hudson River bike path on the night of Halloween in 2017. In addition to the first-degree murder counts, he was also charged with attempted murder, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, violence and destruction of a motor vehicle resulting in death and providing material support to ISIS (Saipov pleaded not guilty to murder and other criminal charges brought against him).

Surprising Fact

Saipov’s trial was the first federal sentencing trial for the death penalty since President Joe Biden took office in 2021. Biden has publicly campaigned against the death penalty, after executions surged during former President Donald Trump’s term. In July 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered a moratorium on federal executions, reversing a Trump Administration decision to resume them after a 17-year hiatus (Garland allowed prosecutors in Saipov’s trial to continue to pursue the death penalty because the trial was opened four years earlier). The last time a jury in New York sentenced someone to the death penalty came in 1963, when the state executed 34-year-old Eddie Lee Mays for killing a woman at a bar in Harlem, the New York Times reported.


Saipov’s violent rampage in 2017 has drawn parallels to several other recent vehicle attacks, including an event in February when a man drove a U-Haul into pedestrians in New York City’s Bay Ridge neighborhood in Brooklyn, killing one person and injuring seven more, including one police officer. Police later identified the driver as 62-year-old Weng Sor, who was charged with one count of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder. Six people were killed and 40 more injured in another attack when a man drove an SUV into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, in November, 2021. The driver, Darrell Brooks, was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted on six counts of first-degree homicide.

Further Reading

Truck’s ‘Violent Rampage’ In NYC Leaves 8 Injured, Driver Detained (Forbes)

Biden Administration Orders Halt On Federal Executions After Surge Under Trump (Forbes)

Divided jury means no death penalty for NYC bike path killer (Associated Press)