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Trial Has Begun As DOJ Seeks Death Penalty on Saipov for West Side Attack with 28 Counts

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Jan 9 - Sayfullo Saipov is now in a trial that may result in the death penalty for killing eight people with a van along the West Side Highway.

  On May 4, 2022 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Vernon S. Broderick held a conference on the case and Inner City Press live tweet it here and below.

On January 6, 2023 after a long jury selection that Inner City Press covered, some below, Judge Broderick confirmed that the trial would start January 9. And it did.

On January 9, 2023, Inner City Press was presented and live tweeted, thread here:

OK - Death penalty trial of Sayfullo Saipov for killing 8 on NYC's West Side Highway bike path is starting.

 In the courtroom, the prosecutors are at the front table, ready; Saipov's lawyers are standing with the chair in the middle of their table empty: waiting for Saipov. Down in the courthouse lobby, an entourage awaited arrival of FBI bigwig for opening statements

 Saipov's Federal Defenders have filed motions and even a sealed / ex parte letter about themselves bringing him halal lunch during trial, and where to store his prayer rug. But where is Saipov? Even the empty seat at the defense table seems set for a lawyer

All rise! Judge Vernon S. Broderick: Mr. Saipov, can you understand the interpreter?

Saipov: Yes!

Judge: I received counsel's email about questioning jurors 185 and 660. I will do that. But Juror 37 first, on any assistant for her to hear the proceedings.

Note: Jury selection went on for weeks - months - but was still no finished. FBI bigshots and victims arrive for opening arguments, and there are still questions for three jurors, to be whispered at sidebar. When will the transcript be available? At what cost?

Update: One lawyer for each side went forward (Federal Defenders' David Patton and Assistant US Attorney Amanda Houle). Saipov is setting at defense table in white COVID mask, with four defense lawyers in black masks.

Judge is back and says: Let's go back on the record? About GX 1145, does the Government intend to only show 1145T, the translation? AUSA Houle: We would just reference the videos. Judge: If your opening? AUSA: Yes. Judge (in ruling voice): Defense claims prejudice

Judge: The defense claims that showing the van hitting the school bus is prejudicial. Ms. Houle, how much would you describe? AUSA Houle: Generally describe the occupants of the school bus.  Judge: I have watched the exhibit several times. I will allow reference

 Judge Broderick: But I exclude the comments of the person taking the video. With regard to GX404, is there a witness who will testify about it? AUSA: Yes.

Judge: The person who took the video? AUSA: No, Your Honor. Someone who was inside the bus will be testifying Judge: Will you blur the childrens' faces ? I only thought of this last night?

AUSA: We'll confer with the defense. We've spoken with the family of the child in GX410, and will do so again.  Federal Defender Patton: Please tell the jurors to not use the cafeteria

 Judge: OK. Ms. Rodriguez, please bring the jury out. [During the long wait, Saipov is playing with / working on his interpretation headphones. Jury enters and is sworn] Judge Broderick: Jurors, you are the triers of fact.

 Judge Broderick: Mr. Saipov is accused of intentionally killed eight people, and injuring 18 others. For these, 26 counts. Then, attempt to join office, and killing while destroying the truck. He has pleaded not guilty. You must presume he is innocent.

 Judge: Jurors, about the trial, you may not tweet or blog or discuss - even with yourselves. Now, the openings. AUSA Alexander Li: On the West Side there is a bike path. On Oct 31, 2017, it was the scene of horror. There was a bus, with children. It was by Saipov

AUSA Li: He crushed their bodies, left them bleeding to die. He ended eight lives in his vicious attack. Why? He proudly said he did it for ISIS, the brutal terrorist organization. He killed to be become a member of ISIS, right here in New York.

AUSA Li: He joined ISIS in 2014, using an encrypted app. There was a photo of a bloody tire, with the caption, Run over them without mercy. He started planning. He planned to mow down people from the West Side to the Brooklyn Bridge. He rented a Home Depot truck

 AUSA Li: He drove the pick up truck into Manhattan. At Pier 40, he struck. He raced onto the bike path. He plowed through a family that was visiting from Belgium. He murdered a woman. Then he hit a second family from Belgium. The wife lost her legs

AUSA Li: He struck a group from Argentina, killing all of those on the left side. He murdered five of them. He swerved toward a woman from New Jersey. He ran over two young Americans. Then he crashed into a school bus, with two children in it

 AUSA Li: He had knives and fake runs. He jumped out yelling, Allah-U-Akbar! He aimed the runs at police, who shot him. The attack was over. At the hospital, he spoke to the FBI, proudly. He wanted to display an ISIS flag in his hospital room

AUSA Li: We will show the knives, and his notes. You will hear from witness about the roar of the engine, the searing pain... We'll show you video of him in Home Depot, and video of the school bus. The racketeering conspiracy in the indictment is ISIS.

 AUSA Li: We ask that you follow Judge Broderick's instructions on the law and use common sense. If you do, you will find the defendant guilty.  Judge Broderick: We'll take our lunch break now.

On October 13, 2022 Saipov's Federal Defenders wrote to object to any disqualification of anti death penalty jurors, focusing on Juror 17 who cited his religious opposition to the death penalty. They argue that exclusion would violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Inclusion would guarantee no death penalty imposed.

On December 20, Saipov's Federal Defenders objected to the US Attorney's Office using 14 of its 20 peremptory strikes... against women.

On December 22, the US struck back, pointing out that Team Saipov used 12 of its 20 peremptories against women, "the defendants Batson challenge may be rejected on that ground alone."

On Friday, December 23, Judge Broderick continued jury selection. Inner City Press live tweeted, thread here:

OK- Now again in US v Saipov death penalty eligible case jury selection, Dec 23 past 4 pm. Judge Broderick says trial will start Jan 9, and run to end of March.

Juror 707 has a ticket to Jamaica March 23, heading down to email it to court. Juror 707 has returned and is being excused, as is Juror 713 who answered "N/A" on questionnaire when asked for views on the death penalty.

It's past 5 pm, with jurors 714 and 720 still to be questioned, 723, 724 and 732 to be told to return another day. Questionnaire was in August, then fot a Jan 3 trial. Now with jury selection still not over, so trial pushed to Jan 9.

 Juror 714 has said that as a Catholic she is against the death penalty, favor life imprisonment, and would only vote for that. She will be questioned 10 or 25 more minutes: 720 is being sent home after waiting for a long time

Juror 714: I would not want to carry the burden of having voted to impose the death penalty. Federal Defenders still want her, it seems. But juror 714 is struck for cause. And juror 720 cried before she left. Adjourned.

  Meanwhile, the Federal Defenders filed a letter complaining about the halal meals in the MDC - just peanut butter and jelly - and asking for FD to feed Saipov lunch during the trial.

On January 3, 2023, while the Federal Defenders motion for a prayer rug protocol was approved, individual voir dire continued, and Inner City Press was there, the only media in the courtroom:

OK- Now again in US v Saipov death penalty eligible case jury selection, Jan 3.  Juror 764 says Middle East is "tribes." US wanted more questions, but juror is qualified. Is told not to Google "mitigating factors."

Questioning began of Juror 664 but will continue; there will be rulings on Jurors 360, 224 and 380 (in writing) and 648, orally.

On January 4, questioning of juror 780 was put over to January 5, when lead defense counsel will not be present. Judge Broderick, citing the need for US Marshals to search through food, denied the Federal Defenders' halal lunch motion. But there will apparently be an ex parte / sealed letter on the topic.

  Judge Broderick said an order would issue that night or the next day about the overflow courtroom and logistics. He questioned whether the statute is about victims being in the courtroom itself, and not any overflow. A concern was expressed about victims sitting in what was referred to as the press box.

We'll have more on this.

The case is US v. Saipov, 17-cr-722 (Broderick)



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