Woman held for subway death

Marc Santora
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A look-alike sketch of the suspect.— Photo: AFP
A look-alike sketch of the suspect.— Photo: AFP

A 31-year-old woman was arrested on Saturday and charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime in connection with the death of an Indian who was pushed onto the track of an elevated subway station at Queens in New York and crushed by an oncoming train.

Erika Menendez selected her victim because she believed him to be a Muslim or a Hindu, said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

“The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter’s nightmare: being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train,” said Mr. Brown said in an interview.

In a statement, he quoted Menendez, “in sum and substance,” as having told the police: “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up.” She conflated the Muslim and Hindu faiths both in her comments to the police and in her target for attack, officials said. The victim, Sunando Sen, was born in India and, according to a roommate, was raised Hindu.

Sen “was allegedly shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself,” Mr. Brown said. “Beyond that, the hateful remarks allegedly made by the defendant and which precipitated the defendant’s actions should never be tolerated by a civilised society.”

Mr. Brown said he had no information on the defendant’s criminal or mental history. “It will be up to the court to determine if she is fit to stand trial,” he said.

Menendez, of Queens, if convicted, faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. By charging her with murder as a hate crime, the possible minimum sentence she faced would be extended to 20 years from 15 years, according to prosecutors.

On Saturday night, Menendez, wearing a dark blue hooded sweatshirt, was escorted from the 112th Precinct to a waiting car by three detectives. The attack occurred around 8 p.m. on Thursday at the 40th Street-Lowery Street station in Sunnyside.

Sen (46), was looking out over the track when the woman approached him from behind and shoved him onto the track. By the next morning, a brief and grainy black-and-white video of the woman, who the police said was behind the attack, was being broadcast on news programmes.

Patrol officers picked up Menendez after someone who had seen the video on television spotted her on a Brooklyn street and called 911, said Paul J. Browne, chief spokesman for the Police Department. — New York Times News Service



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