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Survivors of West Side bike path attack say they hope to address Sayfullo Saipov at his sentencing

Sayfullo Saipov attack victims react to life sentence
Sayfullo Saipov attack victims react to life sentence 02:37

NEW YORK -- Some survivors of the 2017 West Side bike path terror attack are speaking out after Monday's verdict.

Because the jury could not reach a unanimous decision on whether to sentence Sayfullo Saipov to death, he'll automatically be formally sentenced to life in prison.

The survivors want their chance to address him for his crimes at that time.

READ MORESayfullo Saipov to be sentenced to life in prison in West Side bike path terror attack after jury unable to reach unanimous death penalty decision

When Saipov drove a truck southbound onto the West Side bike path on Halloween 2017, many never saw him barreling down behind them. However, Rachel Pharn was pedaling north and saw two bicyclists get hit. Saipov then took aim at her.

"Every day I was in court my heart was just breaking more and more," Pharn said.

Her physical injuries have mostly healed, but her mental anguish persists.

"Just to hear what is was like for people to lose the ones that they loved and to hear the different things people have had to endure the last five years, it makes me really sad," Pharn said.

Aristide Melissas testified he, too, struggled, even walking to a river once with thoughts of ending his life.

"I was trying to make a little more visible the invisible things that people cannot imagine," Melissas said.

READ MOREDarren Drake, killed in 2017 West Side bike path terror attack, honored in New Jersey

When he was struck he suffered a massive head injury and broken bones. His wife had both legs and a finger amputated, as well as a spinal cord injury. She also testified twice.

Melissas said he's OK with the verdict.

"Life imprisonment but very severe conditions was the right thing," he said. "It's probably most in correlation with what we went through."

Saipov, who committed the attack in the name of ISIS, never looked at the survivors and victims' family members who took the stand.

"I actually tried many times to make eye contact with him," Pharn said.

Pharn and Melissas are hoping to address him directly at his formal sentencing.

"That moment is the only moment I've been waiting for ever since this happened," Pharn said.

"I've been writing my words for quite a long time now," Melissas added.

On Monday, CBS2 tried to ask his defense attorneys is Saipov feels any remorse, but they didn't answer.

"If he were to demonstrate that, it would offer a lot of healing," Pharn said.

And going through the trial, they say, has aided in the healing process.

"Of course there was rage, there was anger. We managed, like I said, to rebound, to go over the rage," Melissas said.

"Being in this court gave me a lot of hope, to just witness the justice system that's in place," Pharn added. "I have this second chance to be here on this planet -- just want to make sure I make it worth it."

No formal sentencing date for Saipov has been set yet.

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