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NYC terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov offers guilty plea in exchange for life

Suspect plea?

NEW YORK -- Lawyers for a man charged with killing eight people in a Halloween attack on a New York City bike path say he would plead guilty if the death penalty is not an option. Sayfullo Saipov, 29, is accused of driving a rented pickup truck down a bicycle path, killing eight people and injuring a dozen others.  

The attorneys told a federal judge in Manhattan on Wednesday that the government can end the case against Saipov by not seeking death. 

Authorities say the Paterson, New Jersey, resident was inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria when he mowed people down in rented truck. He has pleaded not guilty and remains held without bail. 

Defense lawyers say the government should accept a guilty plea and a sentence of life in prison without parole to provide victims' families and the public with closure. 

Saipov was indicted in November on eight counts of murder, twelve counts of attempted murder, and supporting a terror group. He went on initially to plead not guilty at arraignment. 

In court filings, federal prosecutors said a decision about seeking the death penalty would be made by September of this year, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions making the final call.

The government is pushing for a trial to begin in April of next year, saying, "A speedy trial date will provide certainty to victims and show respect for their clear interest in reaching a final resolution as soon as possible."

Saipov's legal team responded with a letter filed Wednesday morning, which read in part, "The most straightforward way to achieve closure would be for the government to accept a plea of guilty and a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole."

The letter continues, "In short, a decision by the government not to seek the death penalty would bring immediate closure to the case without the need for the public and victims to repeatedly relive the terrible events of October 31, 2017."

President Trump has taken a close interest in the case. The day after the attack, he tweeted that Saipov "should get the death penalty."

But Jimmy Drake -- the father of Darren Drake, a New Jersey man killed in the attack -- told CBS New York: "Killing that man won't bring my son back. I have no vengeance that I'm seeking."

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