Woman pleads guilty to pushing man onto subway track

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(CNN) — The Queens, New York, district attorney called it “every subway commuter’s worst nightmare.”

A man waiting for a train was pushed off the subway platform into the path of an arriving train on December 27, 2012. He died instantly.

Erika Menendez of Queens, was charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime. Menendez told authorities she “pushed a Muslim off the train tracks” because she’d hated Hindus and Muslims ever since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Menendez, 33, was allowed Friday to plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter, Brown said in a statement.

The judge indicated he would sentence her to 22 to 25 years in prison on April 29. Conviction on the original charge would have resulted in a tougher sentence — 25 years to life imprisonment, Meris Campbell, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said Saturday.

The district attorney’s office accepted the plea because Menendez promised not to appeal and because of Menendez’s “substantial psychiatric history and serious drug problem,” Campbell said. “We are assured she’ll serve a substantial amount of time behind bars.”

The victim, Sunando Sen, 46, was not Muslim. A friend told CNN he grew up in a Hindu family.

The incident happened at night at the 40 Street-Lowery Street station in Sunnyside, Queens.

Witnesses told police a woman paced the platform and talked to herself before pushing Sen as the 11-car train entered the station. Security video showed a woman running from the scene.

Menendez was recognized on a street in Brooklyn by a passerby who had seen the video and called 911, police said.

“The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter’s worst nightmare — being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train,” Brown said Friday. “The victim was allegedly shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself.”

A call and email to Menendez’s defense lawyer were not immediately returned Saturday.