Mental test ordered for New York City subway slaying suspect
NEW YORK — A woman suspected of killing an immigrant who was pushed off a New York City subway platform has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Erika Menendez, 31, was arraigned late Saturday on a charge of murder as a hate crime. She told police that she has hated Muslims since the 9/11 attacks and thought the victim was one. Judge Gia Morris ordered that Menendez be held without bail and be given a mental health exam.
“The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter's worst nightmare,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Menendez is charged in the death of Sunando Sen, who was crushed by a train in Queens on Thursday night. Friends and co-workers said Sen, a 46-year-old Indian immigrant, was Hindu.
“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 told police, according to the district attorney's office.
There were no Hindus involved in the 9/11 attacks.
Menendez was incoherent at her arraignment in Queens criminal court, at one point laughing so hard that the judge told her defense lawyer, “You're going to have to have your client stop laughing.”
Menendez admitted shoving Sen, who was pushed from behind, authorities said. She was arrested after a tip by a passer-by who saw her on a street and thought she looked like the woman in a surveillance video released by police.
A man who answered the phone at her family's apartment told the New York Post that Menendez is a troubled woman.
“Erika is a bipolar person, and that is why this happened — not because she was a terrorist,” he said. “She's been in Elmhurst Hospital 10 to 15 times.”
Her building's doorman told the Post that she goes out of control when she fails to take her medications.
“She would go off the wall sometimes in the house,” Angel Luis Santiago said. Her parents “called the cops on her to take her out of the house. When she don't take her medication, she goes really wacky.”
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