NEW YORK—Lawyers for a man charged with killing eight people when he drove his truck onto a New York City bike path said Tuesday that the death penalty should be ruled out because President Donald Trump was “uninformed and full of rage” when he called for it.
The lawyers said in papers filed in Manhattan federal court on behalf of Sayfullo Saipov that Trump irrevocably tainted the legal process when he tweeted in all capital letters a day after the attack that Saipov “SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!”
Saipov was arrested immediately after the Oct. 31, 2017, destruction. He’s pleaded not guilty. Authorities say he told them after his arrest that he was inspired by Islamic State videos and had used a truck in the attack to inflict maximum damage against civilians.
Lawyers wrote that prosecutors were out of line when they notified the court last month that the Justice Department had authorized them to seek death.
“His impetuous decision was uninformed and full of rage; he actually revelled in the prospect of condemning Mr. Saipov to die in the ‘home of the horrible crime he committed.’ But the Constitution does not tolerate a death-penalty scheme driven by bloodthirst or revenge,” the lawyers said.