(Reuters) – A U.S. jury was ordered to restart deliberations on Thursday over the sentence for a man who killed eight people by driving a truck down a Manhattan bike path on Halloween in 2017 after a juror was excused to attend to a family emergency.
Sayfullo Saipov, a 35-year-old Uzbek national, had been convicted in January by a federal jury in Manhattan of committing murder with a goal of joining Islamic State, or ISIS, a group the United States has designated a “terrorist” organization.
The same jury then reconvened to consider whether Saipov, who has been jailed since the attack, should be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.
U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick restarted the sentencing deliberations on Thursday with an alternate juror.
The judge rejected a request by Saipov’s attorneys to declare a mistrial. They had argued that only jurors who decide a defendant’s guilt in a death penalty case may hand down a sentence.
The decision creates an issue that Saipov may appeal if he is sentenced to death.
The 12-person jury must reach a unanimous decision for Saipov to receive the death penalty.
(Reporting by Jody Godoy and Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)