NEW YORK — A 33-year-old American woman has been sentenced to 24 years in prison for pushing an Indian man to death in front of a subway train in an attack apparently motivated by religious animus.
Erika Menendez had pleaded guilty in March before Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory Lasak for shoving Sunando Sen, 46 to his death as the subway train entered the station on the night of December 27, 2012.
Menendez however insisted that she could not remember why she had pushed Sen onto the path of an approaching train. A report in the New York Post said Lasak expressed his outrage over Sen's death before sentencing her.
"For whatever reason, when you gave your statement to police after you were arrested, you said, 'I hate Muslims and the Hindus.' Do you remember that?" the judge asked.
Menendez replied she did not.
"You picked out Sen, who was on that platform and you stood behind him and you followed him," the judge said.
"This was a particularly brutal homicide. I can only imagine his final thoughts. That's a horrible, horrible way to die," Lasak said adding that Menendez's act terrorised the whole city.
"Millions of people take the trains every day in New York City to go to work or to go to school or other destinations, and they want to feel safe," Lasak said.
"And this put a chilling effect on all the ridership."
Sen, an immigrant from India, had lived in Queens for years and had opened his own printing and copying business near Columbia University.
He was unmarried and his parents were dead, according to roommates who lived with him in a small apartment.
Following Menendez's guilty plea, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown had said she committed "what is every subway commuter's worst nightmare - being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train."
He had said Sen was shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself.
According to the criminal complaint, Menendez was observed talking to herself and pacing back and forth on the subway platform around 8 pm on December 27.
Sen was on the platform waiting for the train's arrival when suddenly Menendez approached him from behind and shoved him onto the tracks as the train came into the station.
Sen was struck by the train and died of multiple blunt force trauma.
Menendez had later told authorities that her hatred for "Hindus and Muslims" prompted her to push Sen off the subway platform.
She had also said that even though the attack on Sen was too sudden, he had still tried to save himself briefly before he fell onto the tracks.
Menendez had said she did not like Muslims and in a jailhouse interview after the attack had said that she "just wanted to hurt Muslims and Hindus ever since [9/11]...I've been beating up Muslims and Hindus for a long time."