Drunk Cipriani Cook Shoved Woman Into Oncoming 'R' Train, DA Says
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A woman who survived being thrown into a moving R train said her attacker, Jose Rojas, got into her face and moments before he threw her into a speeding R line subway, she described in powerful testimony Tuesday.
"He looked at me with what seemed like a crazy stare," said Ute Linhart, 40, a music marketing professional who lives in Hell's Kitchen but originally hails from Germany, who said the short Hispanic man was "uncomfortably close" so she turned away from him at the 28th Street N and R station on Aug. 10, 2010 during rush hour.
Then, without any apparent reason, she said she was shoved forward as she waited for the train to Times Square where she was headed for a concert after work.
"The train was pulling close and then I felt a hard push from behind and I was flying into the path of the oncoming train," Linhart said.
It "felt like two hands" hit her back and she testified that nothing about it could have been an accidental bump, as defense lawyers have argued.
"I don't think that it was possible it was somebody who bumped into me, there was way too much force," she said during a brief cross-examination. Had it been an accident, "I would not have flown into the path of the train" the way she did, she added.
After that she was tossed onto the platform and landed on the right side of her face. She blacked out but vaguely remembers several witnesses trying to help her, she said.
Linhart said her injuries were extensive and painful. She spent eight days in the hospital following the incident and was put on a morphine drip in addition to other pain killers while she was treated for internal lung bleeding, eight broken ribs, a broken shoulder bone, jaw bone and orbital bone and other fractures throughout her body.
She appeared in court to tesitfy Tuesday in a black suit, her long blond hair braided hanging down her back in a braided ponytail.
She calmy told the jury how the incident had changed her life, left her with nerve damage and a host of other problems and kept her out of work for six months.
"I'll have to get treatment for the rest of my life," the woman told jurors. She had been seen by 10 different doctors following the alleged assault, she said.
Rojas, 25, a Cipriani cook, had knocked back several tall cans of beer during a soccer game just before the horrific event, prosecutors said at the man's trial Tuesday.
Then without any reason, the cook, who had been drinking at a downtown deli as he watched a Mexico vs. Spain match, shoved Linhart forward just as the train was pulling in, slamming her against one of the first cars to arrive, prosecutors said.
When asked why he did what he did by shocked onlookers, he told them he did not know, Assistant District Attorney David Drucker said.
Meanwhile, Linhart was left with an immense amount of pain and medical trauma.
"The left side of her face, the left side of her body, slammed into the side of the train," said Drucker, who added she "will never be 100 percent."
Had Rojas pushed her seconds earlier she would likely be dead, Drucker said in opening arguments Tuesday.
"She's lucky in a way. If she was pushed a second earlier in front of the train, it'd be a different charge right now," he argued.
Rojas, of the Bronx, is charged with attempted murder and several counts of assault and faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
His lawyer, Steven Ross, argued there was no intent to push Linhart into the train and that the incident was the result of rush-hour jostling on a crowded and narrow subway platform.
"Sometimes people are badly injured as the result of accidents. This was an accident," he told jurors.
The trial was expected to continue Wednesday morning with additional witnesses.