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Ear to the Ground

Suspected Subway Pusher Charged With Murder as a Hate Crime

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Posted on Dec 30, 2012
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Surveillance video of suspect Erika Menendez.

Authorities say a 31-year-old woman who is accused of pushing a man off a subway platform into the way of a train in Queens last week did so because of his religion. Erika Menendez was arrested Saturday and charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime in the death of Sunando Sen.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, Menendez selected her victim because she believed he was Muslim or Hindu. Sen was born in India and raised a Hindu.

The New York Times:

In a statement, Mr. Brown quoted Ms. 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.” Ms. Menendez conflated the Muslim and Hindu faiths in her comments to the police and in her target for attack, officials said.

...Mr. 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 civilized society.”

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During her arraignment Sunday morning, Menendez showed no remorse for her alleged actions, even going so far as to laugh off the charges.

Newsday:

Menendez laughed, smiled and nodded as prosecutors read from her alleged confession.

“I pushed a Muslim,” Assistant District Attorney Michelle Kaszuba said, quoting from statements she said Menendez made to detectives. “There is no reason. I just pushed him in front of the train because I thought it would be cool. I just pushed him because he was Muslim.” Asked whether she regretted the crime, Kaszuba said, Menendez told authorities: “Nope, I don’t like to regret anything. It is what it is.”

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Judge Gia Morris, who ordered that Menendez be held without bail and undergo a mental health examination before her next appearance, reprimanded the woman for her court conduct, calling it “not appropriate.”

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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