Woman charged with ‘hate crime’ for killing Indian
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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 a man who was pushed onto the tracks of an elevated subway station in Queens and crushed by an oncoming train.
The woman, Erika Menendez, selected her victim because she believed him to be a Muslim or a Hindu, Richard A Brown, the Queens district attorney, said. "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," Brown said
In a statement, Brown 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." Menendez conflated the Muslim and Hindu faiths 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," Brown said.
Menendez's strange behaviour at her arraignment infuriated Queens Criminal Court Judge Gia Morris, who ordered the woman's defence lawyer Dietrich Epperson to "Tell your client this is not funny. This is not appropriate."
Prosecutors said Menendez expressed no remorse for her actions and spoke about smoking pot and "having sex with her man in Brooklyn" after she committed the crime. Menendez would undergo a psychiatric examination to determine whether she is mentally competent to stand trial.
If convicted, she 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.