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Suspect in train death charged

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By The Associated Press
Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, 7:34 p.m.
 

NEW YORK — The family of a woman accused of shoving a man to his death in front of a subway train called police several times in the past five years because she had not been taking prescribed medication and was difficult to deal with, authorities said on Monday.

Erika Menendez, 31, was being held without bail, charged with murder in the death of Sunando Sen. Menendez told police she pushed the 46-year-old India native because she thought he was Muslim, and she hates them, according to prosecutors.

The two had never met before she shoved him off the subway platform because she “thought it would be cool,” prosecutors said. The victim was Hindu, not Muslim.

It wasn't clear whether Menendez had a diagnosed mental condition. But her previous arrests and legal troubles paint a portrait of a troubled woman.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly would not say what medication she was taking or whether she had a psychiatric history. Authorities were called to her home five times since 2005 on reports of an emotionally disturbed person, records show.

In one instance, police said, she threw a radio at the responding officers.

Menendez had been arrested several times, starting when she was young. In 2003, she was arrested on charges she punched a 28-year-old man in the face inside her Queens home, but the case was later dropped. She pleaded guilty that year to assaulting a stranger on the street near her home. The victim, retired fire department official Daniel Conlisk, said the attack was violent and relentless.

“I really believe if she had a knife, she would have killed me,” said Conlisk, 65.

In December 2003, Menendez was arrested for cocaine possession. She was given a conditional discharge upon pleading guilty.

On Thursday, witnesses said a woman pacing and mumbling to herself suddenly shoved Sen off the elevated platform of a No. 7 train that travels between Manhattan and Queens. She fled.

Menendez was spotted by a passer-by who called 911 and said she resembled the wanted suspect. When she was arrested, she told police she shoved Sen because she blamed Muslims and Hindus for 9/11 and had been “beating them up” ever since, according to authorities.

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