Psychiatric test ordered for suspect in N.Y. subway death

New York detectives escorted Erika Menendez (second from left), who was charged with murder as a hate crime.

Danielle Finkelstein/Newsday via Associated Press

New York detectives escorted Erika Menendez (second from left), who was charged with murder as a hate crime.

NEW YORK — A 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.’’

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Defense attorney Dietrich Epperson said her behavior in court was no different from how she had been acting, and said her 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 native of India 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.

Associated Press

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