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Subway pusher suspect sane

Erika Menendez (c.) who allegedly knocked a man off the No. 7 subway platform in front of a moving train, has been declared mentally fit to stand trial. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

A Rego Park woman who allegedly thrust an Elmhurst man in front of an incoming No. 7 train in Sunnyside has been deemed mentally fit to stand trial and a homeless man was arraigned on charges of pushing another Elmhurst man in front of a Q train in Manhattan last month, prosecutors said.

Erica Menendez, 31, of 67th Avenue and Wetherole Street, who is accused of pushing 46-year-old Hindu and Indian immigrant Sunando Sen onto the tracks at Sunnyside’s 40th Street-Lowery Street station Dec. 27, was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation at an arraignment in Queens Criminal Court last month, the Queens district attorney said.

Menendez, a Latina, had allegedly said shortly after her arrest that, “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.”

She was found to able to stand trial before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Chin-Brandt Monday and indicted on two counts of second-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder as a hate crime, the DA said.

“The savagery and violence of the attack have no place in civilized society — and especially in Queens County, which is proudly known as one of the most diverse counties in the country,” DA Richard Brown said in a statement.

The Sunnyside death occurred three weeks after another Elmhurst resident, Ki-Suck Han, was pushed in front of a downtown-bound Q subway train in the 49th Street station in Manhattan. Naeem Davis pleaded not guilty to the crime but was arraigned Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, the Manhattan DA said.

In a disclosure form filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Davis said he had been going downtown Dec. 4 to buy merchandise for some street vendors for whom he was working. Davis said Han’s words were slurred and he had been hitting one of the entry gates before he approached Davis and threatened to kill him. Davis said he believed he saw a knife or glass bottle in Han’s coat and pushed him away out of self-defense.

“His feet hit the edge of the platform, the man rolled over like a bowling ball,” Davis said of Han.

Davis said he “freaked,” made no effort to help Han and ran away after the incident but had not been trying to kill him. He said he was angry because someone had thrown away his Timberland boots two days before he pushed Han.

Menendez was allegedly muttering to herself and sitting on a bench at 40th Street-Lowery Street in late December before she stepped behind Sen as the train approached the station, the DA said. She allegedly pushed him off the platform and he was hit by an eastbound No. 7 train, dying instantly of multiple blunt force trauma, the Queens DA said.

She was arrested two days later.

Menendez’s next court date is Jan. 29 and she is being held without bail, the Queens DA said.

Davis’ next court date is Jan. 25 and he is being held without bail, the Manhattan DA said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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