A Queens grand jury indicted a Richmond Hill man on murder and sexual abuse charges Wednesday in the vicious attack of a 92-year-old woman, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
Maria Fuertes was walking near her home just after midnight on Jan. 6 when Reeaz Khan, 21, allegedly threw her to the ground, sexually assaulted her, and then fled the scene, according to prosecutors.
Khan will be arraigned before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth C. Holder on Feb.4. If convicted, Khan faces 25 years to life in prison.
Khan was captured on surveillance footage following Fuertes as she walked on 127th Avenue near Liberty Avenue, when he allegedly attacked her from behind onto the sidewalk, according to charges. The defendant is alleged to have sexually assaulted her, according to an autopsy performed by the medical examiner. Khan was then observed on surveillance video sprinting away.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said the victim was found by a passerby who called 911 around 2:14 a.m. Fuertes was barely conscious and incoherent when she was transported to a nearby hospital. She sustained a fractured spine in two places, two rib fractures, bruising to her neck and chest and other injuries. She died as a result of those injuries, according to Katz.
“A grand jury has taken action indicting this defendant to hold him accountable for the horrible attack of an elderly woman, who was beloved in her neighborhood,” Katz said. “The defendant is accused of pouncing on the 92-year-old woman from behind, throwing her to the ground and then sexually assaulting her before he ran from the scene. The victim was discovered hours later barely conscious, incoherent and naked from the waist down. The defendant has been apprehended and will be prosecuted for his alleged heinous actions.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio is defending his administration’s “sanctuary city” policy after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Khan should have been deported back in November. ICE claims Khan was here illegally from Guyana when he was arrested by the NYPD for the charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon on Nov. 27 after he allegedly cut his father in the chest and arm with a mug during an argument.
ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations deportation officers lodged a detainer with the NYPD but under city policy ICE detainers are honored only when the person has been convicted of a “violent or serious” crime within five years of the arrest.
“It was a deadly choice to release a man on an active ICE detainer back on to the streets after his first arrest included assault and weapons charges, and now he faces new charges including murder,” ERO New York Field Office Director Thomas R. Decker said Monday. “Clearly the politicians care more about criminal illegal aliens than the citizens they are elected to serve and respect.”
QNS reached out to City Hall and is awaiting a response. During a groundbreaking ceremony in Long Island City, de Blasio spoke to WCBS on the matter.
“I don’t know every fact of what happened before, but I know something fundamental. We believe that it is right to hold the standard. If someone is convicted of one of those crimes, they’re out of here. It’s as simple as that,” de Blasio said. “If someone is accused of a crime, they still, of course, have a right to trial.”