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Alleged Subway Pusher Erika Menendez Moved to Psychiatric Ward

By Andrea Swalec | January 1, 2013 5:14pm

MANHATTAN — The woman who told police she pushed a man into the path of an oncoming 7 train because she believed he was Muslim has been transferred to the psychiatric jail ward for women inside Elmhurst Hospital.

City records show that Erika Menendez, the 31-year-old Queens woman who allegedly confessed to shoving Sunando Sen, 46, to his death at the 40th Street station Thursday, was moved from Rikers Island to Elmhurst Hospital's prison ward, which houses women "requiring acute psychiatric care."

Menendez's bizarre behavior during her court arraignment Sunday, including smiling and repeated laughing, prompted Judge Gia Morris to chastise her in the courtroom and order her to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before her next court appearance Jan. 14, prosecutors said.

Menendez, who police and neighbors said had a history of mental illness and assault, allegedly told police she pushed Sen because "I hate Hindus and Muslims," according to the Queens District Attorney's office.

Menendez has been charged with murder in the second degree, as a hate crime. If convicted, she faces 25 years to life in prison.

Friends described Sen, an Indian immigrant who ran a copy shop, as a kind, reserved movie buff. He was cremated in a traditional Hindu ceremony Monday.