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NYC subway death: Accused deemed mentally fit for trial

January 15, 2013 15:17 IST

A 31-year old woman, accused of shoving an Indian immigrant to his death in front of a subway train in December as she hated 'Hindus and Muslims', has been found mentally fit to stand trial and was indicted on charges of murder as a hate crime by a United States grand jury.

Erika Menendez of Queens pushed Sunando Sen, 46, in front of an oncoming subway train on December 27, telling authorities later that her hatred for 'Hindus and Muslims' prompted her to do so.

Menendez had shown no remorse for her actions during an initial court hearing after her arrest in December, often laughing uncontrollably and telling authorities that she "pushed a Muslim in front of the train because I thought it would be cool."

At the hearing, she was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said that at a hearing before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Chin-Brandt in a criminal court on Monday, Menendez was deemed fit to stand trial.

Indicted on charges of one count of second-degree murder as a hate crime and two counts of second-degree murder, Menendez faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

She has been ordered to return to court on January 29, when she would be arraigned on the indictment.

She remains held without bail.

"The defendant is charged with having been motivated by hate when she allegedly shoved an innocent man into the path of an oncoming train. The violence has no place in a civilised society. When hate crimes do, regrettably, occur, they will be condemned in the strongest possible terms and those responsible will be brought to justice to answer for their actions," Brown said in a statement.

Witnesses said Menendez was seen muttering to herself while sitting on a bench at a Queens subway station on the night of December 27.

As a train approached the station, Menendez stepped behind an unsuspecting Sen, followed him briefly and then pushed him off the platform and into the path of the train.

Sen, who lived with roommates in a small apartment in Queens and was unmarried, died of multiple blunt force trauma.

At the time of her arrest, Menendez admitted pushing Sen and said, "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 have been beating them up."

Sen, who had owned a printing business in the city, was cremated on New Year's eve in the presence of friends and business partners.

Yoshita Singh In New York City
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