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December 31, 2012

Psychiatric test ordered for suspect in subway death

NORMAN — Woman is accused of shoving man in front of train

NEW YORK — A 31-year-old woman accused of shoving a man to his death in front of a subway train because she believed he was Muslim laughed and smiled during a court hearing where she was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Erika Menendez, 31, was charged Saturday night with murder as a hate crime after she told police she spontaneously pushed Sunando Sen, according to prosecutors.

“There is no reason. I just pushed him in front of the train because I thought it would be cool,” she said, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

She laughed so hard during her arraignment in Queens criminal court that Judge Gia Morris told her lawyer: “You’re going to have to have your client stop laughing.”

Defense attorney Dietrich Epperson said Menendez’s behavior in court was no different from how she had been acting, and said his client didn’t really think the proceedings were funny, according to Newsday. A call by The Associated Press to Epperson was not immediately returned Sunday. Menendez was held without bail and ordered to have a mental health exam.

Queens prosecutors said she pushed the 46-year-old India native to his death because she blamed “Muslims, Hindus and Egyptians” for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims — ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up,” Menendez told police, according to the district attorney’s office.

Friends and co-workers said Sen, a native of Calcutta, was Hindu. He had lived in Queens for decades and was a graphic designer and copy shop owner. Sen was standing on an elevated platform of the 7 train that travels between Manhattan and Queens when he was shoved from behind as the train entered the station.

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