Lawyers for Sayfullo Saipov, the man accused of killing eight people driving a truck to a bike lane in New York City in October, have asked a federal judge to prohibit prosecutors from seeking the death penalty, saying the President Donald Trump's statements on Twitter legal process just impossible
The man accused of killing eight people while driving a truck on a bike lane in New York City last fall is trying to avoid the death penalty due to Donald Trump's incendiary tweets.
Sayfullo Saipov's lawyers on Thursday asked a federal judge to prohibit prosecutors from seeking the death penalty, arguing that the president's statements on Twitter have made a fair legal process impossible.
In a motion filed in Manhattan federal court, Saipov's lawyers said Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who must decide whether to apply the death penalty, can not be objective because Trump has pressured him to make decisions based on the death penalty. ; purely political considerations & # 39; and Saipov has asked to be executed.
The lawyers pointed to a Monday tweet in which the president criticized the Department of Justice of Jeff Sessions & # 39; for accusing two republican congressmen & # 39; just before & # 39; of the next elections to Congress.
They also cited two tweets after Saipov's arrest asking him to face the death penalty.
The defense argued that Attorney General Jeff Sessions (left), who would decide whether to apply the death penalty, can not be targeted due to pressure from Trump (right)
Days after they arrested the 30-year-old Uzbek national for the attack on the West Side of Manhattan, Trump asked to be executed in two separate tweets (as shown above).
Together, they said, Trump's tweets make it impossible for Sessions to exercise an independent discretion & # 39; on the matter.
They asked that if the judge refrains from prohibiting the death penalty completely, an independent prosecutor is appointed to make the decision instead of the sessions.
A spokesman for federal prosecutor Geoffrey Berman, whose office is prosecuting Saipov, declined to comment. The US Department of Justice UU He did not respond immediately to a request for comments.
Saipov, a 30-year-old Uzbek citizen, was arrested in October immediately after police said he had plowed a truck in a bicycle lane on the West Side of Manhattan.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which was the deadliest attack on New York City since September 11, 2001.
He was charged in an indictment with eight counts of murder and other crimes, including attempted murder and providing material support to the Islamic State. He has pleaded not guilty.
After the attack, Saipov told investigators he was inspired to watch videos of the Islamic State and that he began planning the attack a year earlier, according to a criminal complaint filed by prosecutors the day after the attack.
Saipov made a public statement at a pretrial hearing in June, speaking of a "war" led by the Islamic State to establish sharia, or Islamic law, on the land, and dismissing the court's judgment as "unimportant" .
Saipov was arrested in October immediately after police said he had plowed a truck in a bicycle lane. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack