By Bill Parry
A Rego Park woman was allowed to plead guilty Friday to first-degree manslaughter for shoving a man to his death in front of a No. 7 subway train in December because she thought he was a Muslim, the Queens district attorney said.
Although she was deemed competent to stand trial, there would have been open questions and “gray areas” that might have resulted in a hung jury, according to a spokesman for the Queens DA.
Erika Menendez, 33, is expected to be sentenced to between 22 and 25 years in prison for approaching 46-year-old Sunnando Sen from behind and pushing him off the platform at the 40th Street subway station in Sunnyside, just as a train came into the station, according to the criminal complaint.
Sen was struck by the train and died of multiple blunt force trauma. He lived in Elmhurst.
“The defendant has admitted committing what is every subway commuter’s worst nightmare – being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train,” DA Richard Brown said. “The victim was shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself.”
Menendez, who the DA’s spokesman says has a substantial psychiatric history combined with drug problems, was observed pacing and talking to herself before the attack, according to the criminal complaint. Prosecutors said she chose Sen as a target believing he was a Muslim.
Sen was born in India and raised Hindu.
“With this plea and her waive of appeal, we are assured that she will serve a substantial time behind bars,” the spokesman said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr