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Cipriani Cook Found Guilty of Assaulting Woman He Threw Into 'R' Train

By DNAinfo Staff on February 24, 2012 12:00pm

MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A Cipriani cook was found guilty of first-degree assault Friday for throwing a woman into the path of an oncoming train while he was intoxicated in 2010.

Jose Rojas, 26, was acquitted of attempted murder but convicted of first-degree assault by a Manhattan jury after about two full days of deliberations.

The jury determined that Rojas intentionally threw 40-year-old Ute Linhart, of Hell's Kitchen, into the side of a moving "R" train on Aug. 10, 2010. Jurors declined to speak to reporters afterward about how they reached their verdict.

Rojas had been drinking heavily with a friend while watching a soccer game at a downtown deli after they got off their shifts at Cipriani restaurants.

During the trial, Linhart testified that Rojas approached her and was uncomfortably close on the subway platform. Video played at trial showed Rojas pacing around a subway platform and appearing intoxicated but the assault itself was not captured by MTA surveillance.

"He looked at me with what seemed like a crazy stare," Linhart told jurors.

Linhart ignored Rojas but moments later she felt herself being thrown forward and unable to stop herself as the speeding train approached. She testified that the side of her face slammed up against the train, before she was thrown backwards onto the platform, unconscious. 

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. called the incident "every New Yorker's nightmare."

"The defendant’s actions caused the victim to suffer life-long injuries and nearly caused her death," Vance said.

At trial, Assistant District Attorney David Drucker said Linhart's survival was dependant on a matter of seconds and that had she been pushed moments earlier she would have died.

"The left side of her face, the left side of her body, slammed into the side of the train," Drucker described of the incident. She "will never be 100 percent."

Rojas' attorneys, Steven Ross and Roger Asmar, said they were disappointed with the verdict and maintained there was no intent to injure Linhart.

"It was an unfortunate accident but it was accidental. He's very sorry for what happened," Asmar said.

Rojas faces up to 25 years in prison at his sentencing in March.