2013-01-23 / Front Page

Subway ‘Push Suspect’ In New Arrest

By Liz Goff

The deranged woman accused of fatally shoving a straphanger to his death in front of a No. 7 train last month was re-arrested for viciously attacking a female corrections officer who escorted her to a court ordered psychiatric evaluation at Elmhurst Hospital Center, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Erika Menendez apparently went berserk inside the Elmhurst Hospital Center emergency room on December 31, after she spotted herself on a television news report, Brown said.

Menendez battered the corrections officer, pulling hair from her head, punching her in the face and smacking the guard with her handcuffs, law enforcement sources said.

Meanwhile, a court-ordered psychiatric exam found Menendez capable of assisting in her own defense.

“According to the file I received, Ms. Menendez has been found fit to stand trial, Queens Criminal Court Judge Dorothy Chin-Brandt said.

Menendez, who was recently indicted by a Queens grand jury on one count of second-degree murder as a hate crime and two counts of second-degree murder, was ordered to remain behind bars without bail at Rikers Island.

Menendez did not appear in court for the ruling on her sanity. Steven Raiser, a defense attorney retained by her family, last week waived his client’s appearance in court.

Menendez appeared disoriented at her arraignment following her arrest. Shje laughed so hard she shook, as prosecutors disclosed the grisly details of Sen’s death.

Menendez, confessed to police that she pushed Sunando Sen, a Hindu, in the path of a No. 7 train roaring into the 40th Street-Lowery Street subway station in Sunnyside at about 8 p.m. on December 27  because she “hates Hindus and Muslims” ever since 2001, “when they put down the twin towers.”

Before Morris remanded Menendez to jail, prosecutors told the court she has expressed no remorse for the horrific crime – and bragged to detectives that she smoked pot and had sex with “her man” in Brooklyn after the attack.

“She is accused of committing a subway commuter’s worst nightmare – suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train, shoved from behind with no chance to defend himself,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

“She told police that she pushed a Muslim off the train tracks. She said, ‘I’ve hated Hindus and Muslims since 2001, since they put down the Twin Towers. I have been beating them up since.

“Beyond that, the hateful remarks allegedly made by the defendant and which precipitated the defendant’s actions can never be tolerated by a civilized society,” Brown declared.

Prosecutors said an outstanding reckless driving charge from February 22, 2012 is expected to be consolidated with the second-degree murder as a hate crime charge at Menendez’ arraignment at Queens Supreme Court, scheduled for January 29.

Menendez is facing 25 years to life in prison, if convicted.

Horrified by two recent subway push-deaths, two local lawmakers are calling for the MTA to develop measures to ensure the safety of straphangers.

State Sen, Jose Peralta and City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer proposed a series of safety measures, including the installation of sliding doors along station platforms, additional security cameras and an intercom system that would allow straphangers to alert workers at the Rail Control Center if someone has fallen to the tracks.

“It does strike me that in a post-9/11 world there are no cameras at any stop,” Van Bramer said.

“In less than a month, two of my constituents have been pushed onto subway tracks and killed,” Peralta said. “I urge the MTA to immediately act on common sense measures to improve rider safety and security.”

MTA officials last week called on straphangers to take one step to protect themselves while waiting for trains: Don’t stand by the edge of the platform.

“Stay back from the edge,” outgoing MTA chairman Joe Lhota said. “I encourage everyone to call 911 immediately if they see an unstable person,” he said.

MTA officials have repeatedly said the cost to install sliding platform barriers is cost prohibitive. Dimensions of the barriers would change from station to station, making the cost skyrocket, agency officials said.

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