Alleged West Side bike path terrorist Sayfullo Saipov won a six-month delay of his death penalty trial from a Manhattan federal court judge on Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Vincent Broderick said he was postponing the trial’s start from Oct. 7 to April 13, 2020, for reasons including delays caused by the government shutdown and State Department resistance to granting visas to Saipov’s family to assist his lawyers in preparing for trial.
Saipov, 31, of Paterson, New Jersey, a lawful permanent resident from Uzbekistan, is charged with using a rented van to fatally mow down eight pedestrians in what he allegedly later confessed was an attack inspired by the Islamic State on Halloween in 2017.
President Donald Trump denounced him as a “degenerate animal,” and the government said it would seek the death penalty last year. Broderick agreed to the delay Tuesday after Saipov’s lawyers said they couldn’t prepare a “constitutionally adequate” defense by October.
The lawyers said Saipov’s parents and siblings would be critical witnesses at the penalty phase of any trial, at which jurors hear mitigating evidence about the defendant and decide whether capital punishment is appropriate.
They told Broderick they need more time to try to get the government to approve visas and seek his intervention, if necessary.
Judge Broderick said he agreed that availability of the family was “critical” to the case, but he said he couldn’t order the State Department to issue visas and warned that the defense might have to use an overseas video feed to get their testimony.
“My authority and power…is extremely limited,” Broderick said.