NEW YORK (Reuters) – A man accused of pushing a woman to death in front of a New York City subway train earlier this year will be sent to a secure mental institution after prosecutors told a judge on Tuesday they would not would not challenge a medical evaluation that found him unfit to stand trial.
Martial Simon, 61, had been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Michelle Go, 40, at the Times Square subway station on January 15.
His murder has baffled New Yorkers amid an increase in some violent crime across the United States since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and prompted the transit authority to announce that it would try to install security barriers on some platforms.
Two court-appointed psychiatrists agreed Simon lacked jurisdiction to stand trial last week after examining him at Bellevue Hospital Center, where he had been held since his January 15 arrest, according to his lawyer, Mitchell Schumann.
In a brief hearing on Tuesday, prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, who did not respond to questions from Reuters, told the court they had agreed to let Simon be confined to a mental institution until may he be fit to stand trial, if ever on that day. came, says Schumann.
The attack he was charged with also drew attention to gaps in mental health services in New York, particularly for the poor and homeless. Earlier this month, state lawmakers expanded a law that allows judges to order mental health treatment or committal to a mental institution if, among other criteria, they are found to be a danger to others.
Simon was a parking lot manager in Manhattan until he was 30, when he was first diagnosed with schizophrenia and became unemployed and homeless, Schumann said. In 2017 he was convicted of attempting to rob a taxi driver and was on parole; a drug possession charge against Simon in 2019 was also dropped as he was deemed unfit to stand trial, Schumann said.
“I think it’s hard to argue that the system hasn’t failed him and he’s not being cared for on the street,” Schumann said.
Police said Schumann harassed several other commuters that day and did not appear to be targeting Go, who worked at Deloitte, because she was an Asian American. But his killing has rattled many Asian Americans, who have reported an increase in racist attacks across the country.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says serious crime remains rare on the subway, one of the largest in the world with more than 3 million rides on average on weekdays this year. Police data shows felony crime is down from early 2020, before COVID-19 swept through New York City.
That message was tested again last week when a man shot and injured 10 people inside a subway car in what officials said was the first subway mass shooting in decades.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.