NEW YORK (AP) — Deliberations that began Wednesday in the trial of a man accused of killing eight people along a Manhattan bike path quickly hit a snag as jurors sent the judge a memo asking him if he would face new criminal charges if they acquit him. .
The motion barely an hour into jury deliberations was a surprising twist in the trial of Sayfullo Saipov, whose lawyers admit he rented a truck and drove down the Hudson River on Halloween in 2017, killing eight cyclists and injuring a dozen others. .
The defense argued that jurors should acquit Saipov of certain charges, particularly racketeering, if they find that he did not kill people to become a member of the Islamic State group, a US-designated terrorist organization. United. The memo appeared to indicate that some jurors believed the argument was about all charges.
Defense attorneys, however, had targeted argument on the racketeering charges in particular, hoping to secure acquittals on some of the 28 counts that could result in a death sentence. If Saipov is found guilty of any of these, a death sentence phase of the trial would begin before the same jury a few days later.
Jurors heard about two weeks of evidence, including testimony from FBI agents and numerous victims of the attack.
Saipov, who moved to the United States in 2010 from Uzbekistan and lived in Ohio and Florida before joining his family in Paterson, New Jersey, has been in federal prison since the attack.
The attack ended after the truck ran through two poles and into a small school bus. Saipov was shot in the lower torso and injured by a police officer. Prosecutors said it ruined his plan to go to the Brooklyn Bridge and kill as many people as possible.
After reading the jury note aloud, U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick sent the panel home for the day. He told the lawyers they could discuss how to respond Thursday morning.
“It’s a complication,” the judge said.
The jury note had three parts. In the first, they asked if the defense attorneys were arguing that Saipov had carried out the attacks but was simply being charged with the wrong crime.
Then they asked a hypothetical question, wondering if Saipov would face the same charges if he had gone abroad and obtained an ID card from the Islamic State group before killing the cyclists.
Eventually they asked, “If we find out that he didn’t do it for his membership in ISIS, and is therefore not guilty, will he be retried with different charges?”