A 31-year-old woman remained in custody without bail on Monday after being charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime for shoving a man to his death in front of a New York City subway train because she believed him to be Muslim.
Erika Menendez laughed and smiled during her arraignment Saturday night in Queens Borough criminal court. Her nonchalance in court was the same as when she appeared in press photos as police escorted her from a patrol car for questioning in the death of 46-year-old Sunando Sen, a Hindu immigrant from India.
"During the arraignment process when she was before court, she was smiling, she was laughing and the judge had to speak to her about that," Meris Campbell, a spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, told reporters.
During the proceedings, Judge Gia Morris told Menendez's lawyer, "You're going to have to have your client stop laughing."
Defense attorney Dietrich Epperson said his client was acting no differently than she had been throughout the investigation so far, and that she didn't actually think the proceedings were funny.
The judge ordered Menendez to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
"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 Queens DA, when implicating herself in the killing. Menendez was captured after a passerby recognized her from surveillance videos and police sketches.
"There is no reason. I just pushed him in front of the train because I thought it would be cool," Menendez told police, according to the DA.
"She is accused of committing a subway commuter's worst nightmare," Brown said. "Sen was suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train, shoved from behind with no chance to defend himself."
Sen's roommate told reporters he was a preternaturally peaceful person.
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