2015-05-27 / Features

24 Years For Fatal Subway Pusher

By Liz Goff
The deranged Queens woman who shoved a man o his death in front of a No. 7 train in December 2012 because she thought he was a Muslim was sentenced to 24 years in prison on May 20, by a Queens judge who said the victim suffered a “horrible” death.

Erika Manendez, 33, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a plea deal with prosecutors, told Judge Gregory Lasak she was unable to remember why she shoved Sunando Sen, a Hindu, in the path of a No. 7 train that came roaring into the 40th Street-Lowery Street subway station in Sunnyside at about 8 p.m. on December 27, 2012.

Lasak blasted Menendez before her sentencing saying, “For whatever reason, when you gave your statement to police after you were arrested, you said, ‘I hate Muslims and the Hindus.’ Do you remember that?” Menendez looked at Lasak and said, “No.”

“You picked out Mr. Sen, who was on that platform and you stood behind him and you followed him,” Lasak said. “This was a particularly brutal homicide. I can only imagine his final thoughts. That’s a horrible, horrible way to die.”

Lasak said Menendez’ acr “terrified” city straphangers.

“Millions of people take the rains every day in New York City to get to work or to go to school or other destinations, and they want to feel safe,” Lasak said. “And this put a chilling effect on all the ridership.”

Eyewitnesses told police Menendez appeared “agitated” and was mumbling in an area behind Sen, sitting on a bench and pacing around the platform, cursing to herself moments before the attack.

As the train barreled into the station, Menendez jumped from her seat on the bench and shoved Sen with both hands, eyewitnesses said. Sen landed in the middle of the tracks and was killed when the second car crushed his head, police said.

Police sources said Sen, who was recovering from a stroke he suffered several months earlier, made a desperate attempt to stand up and run toward the platform, but his efforts were cut short by the speed of the approaching train.

Menendez bolted from the station after the attack and fled down Queens Boulevard, where her image was captured on a sidewalk surveillance camera at a local pizza shop, the sources said.

Cops at the 71st Precinct arrested Mendez on December 29, 2012, after they recognized her on the street, wearing the same jacket seen on the surveillance video. Menendez mumbled constantly, incoherently as detectives questioned her following her arrest, the sources said.

Menendez was initially charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime and was later determined competent to stand trial. She was facing life in prison before pleading guilty in the plea deal.

Menendez had a history of arrests prior to the Seti murder, law enforcement sources said. 

She was arrested in October 2012 for allegedly biting and scratching a man on a Queens sidewalk, and she had been arrested earlier that year on cocaine possession charges, the sources said.  Menendez also spent years in and out of mental health treatment facilities in Queens and Manhattan and had spent time in the psychiatric unit at Elmhurst Hospital Center, law enforcement sources said.

Ar Suman, one of four roommates who shared a first-floor apartment in Elmhurst with Sen described him as a “very educated and very nice person. He never had a problem with anyone,” Suman said.

Sen, who came to the U.S. from Calcutta and co-owned a Manhattan print shop, was not married and had no children. Both his parents died several years ago, friends said.

Bidyut Sarker, 57, a close friend if Setu told reporters following Menendez’ guilty plea, “We are glad that at least she will get some sort of punishment for what she did. It was really unspeakable. You cannot kill somebody in cold blood,” Sarker said.

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