Shoved Man To Death At Sunnyside Train Station
Having been found mentally competent to stand trial, a Rego Park woman was back in court on Monday, Jan. 14, after being indicted by a grand jury on murder charges for allegedly pushing an Elmhurst man in front of an oncoming subway train to his death at a Sunnyside station last month.
Erica Menendez, 31, of 67th Avenue in Rego Park faces charges of second-degree murder for the death of Sunando Sen, 46, of 79th Street in Elmhurst, who was shoved off the platform of the 40th Street station on the 7 line and then struck by an arriving train on the night of Dec. 27, 2012.
One of the three second-degree murder counts against Menendez was classified as a hate crime after the suspect-in statements made to detectives- allegedly claimed that she attacked Sen because he was “a Muslim” and that she hated “Hindus and Muslims ever since” the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
During Monday’s hearing in Queens Criminal Court before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Chin-Brandt, Menendez was pronounced fit to stand trial as a result of a psychiatric evaluation conducted following her arrest on Dec. 29, 2012. Brandt ordered the suspect held without bail and to return to court on Jan. 29 to be arraigned on the charges in the grand jury indictment.
“The violence of the attack has no place in a civilized society-and especially in Queens County, which is proudly known as one of the most diverse counties in the country,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement on Monday. “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.”
Law enforcement sources said the murder took place at around 8 p.m. on Dec. 27, 2012 at the 40th Street station on the elevated 7 line, located above the intersection of Queens Boulevard and 40th Street.
Reportedly, Menendez was observed by eyewitness pacing back and forth on the platform muttering to herself before she took a seat on a bench. Sen stood on the platform directly in front of where the suspect sat as he waited for a train to arrive.
Asa7trainapproached,police said, Menendez rose from the bench and allegedly pushed Sen off the platform onto the tracks. Seconds later, the victim was struck by the oncom- ing train and became pinned below the second car.
Menendez ran out of the station and fled from the scene in an unknown direction.
Officers from the 108th Precinct, NYPD Transit Bureau District 20 and the NYPD Emergency Services Unit rushed to the location along with EMS units, which pronounced Sen dead at the location from what was later described as multiple blunt force trauma.
A security camera image of Menendez running away from the station was recovered by police, which was later published along with a composite sketch of the perpetrator. She was picked up by police in Brooklyn the day after the attack and, after being questioned by the 108th Precinct Detective Squad, was charged on Dec. 29, 2012 with Sen’s death.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Peter Lomp of the D.A.’s Homicide Trials Bureau, which is supervised by Assistant District Attorneys Brad A. Leventhal, bureau chief, and Jack Warsawsky, deputy bureau chief.