Sus­pect in fa­tal sub­way push says she’s not guilty, ad­mit­ted noth­ing

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - STATE NEWS - By Jen­nifer Peltz

A for­mer home health aide rolled her eyes and in­sisted she wasn’t guilty as she was charged Tues­day with shov­ing a woman onto the sub­way tracks un­der Times Square, killing her.

Prose­cu­tors said Me­lanie Liver­pool had con­fessed to killing 49-year-old Con­nie Wat­ton, of Queens, but she re­buffed the claim at her ar­raign­ment on a mur­der charge.

“What? I didn’t ad­mit to noth­ing,” Liver­pool said be­fore the judge re­minded her she had a lawyer to speak for her.

Liver­pool, 30, was or­dered held without bail in a death that strikes at New York sub­way rid­ers’ fears, though fa­tal pushes are rare.

She ap­peared un­ruf­fled by the charges dur­ing Tues­day’s brief pro­ceed­ing. Author­i­ties have de­scribed her as emo­tion­ally dis­turbed, but her lawyer, Mathew Mari, said she had de­clined to give him any de­tails on her med­i­cal his­tory.

“She’s adamant that she did not con­fess and that she’s not guilty” and didn’t want to dis­cuss any­thing else, Mari said.

Author­i­ties said Liver­pool and Wat­ton were talk­ing or ar­gu­ing on a plat­form at the bustling Times Square sta­tion be­fore Liver­pool pushed Wat­ton in front of an ap­proach­ing train. She was found dead un­der it, and Liver­pool was ap­pre­hended within min­utes.

“This is a strong case, with mul­ti­ple eye­wit­nesses” and an ad­mis­sion from Liver­pool, Man­hat­tan As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Matthew Thi­man said.

Po­lice said they were look­ing at video sur­veil­lance to try to de­ter­mine what led to the at­tack.

Liver­pool, who lives in Queens, worked as a health aide un­til about three weeks ago, Mari said. He didn’t know how her job had ended.

Wat­ton worked for decades as a house­keeper for bil­lion­aire Black­stone Group CEO Stephen Sch­warz­man, his daugh­ter told the New York Post.

“My whole fam­ily is re­ally said and shocked,” said Zibby Sch­warz­man. “It’s hor­ri­fy­ing.”

Wat­ton, who was from the Philip­pines, “was part of ev­ery hol­i­day,” the daugh­ter added. “She was just a part of ev­ery piece of life since I was nine years old.”

In re­cent years, about 50 peo­ple a year have died af­ter be­ing hit by New York City sub­way trains, in sit­u­a­tions rang­ing from ac­ci­dents to will­ful leaps. The num­bers are small com­pared with the more than 1.7 bil­lion sub­way rides taken each year, and of­fi­cials say a sub­stan­tial pro­por­tion are sui­cides.

Still, there have been some deadly pushes in re­cent years. One man, Kevin Dar­den, is await­ing sen­tenc­ing af­ter plead­ing guilty to man­slaugh­ter in a 2014 sub­way shove in the Bronx.

And in 2012, a men­tally ill woman who had a his­tory of at­tack­ing strangers was charged in a fa­tal push in Queens, and a home­less man was charged in a deadly sub­way shove be­neath Times Square. The woman, Erika Me­nen­dez, pleaded guilty to man­slaugh­ter; the man, Naeem Davis, has pleaded not guilty and is await­ing trial.

The 2012 cases prompted tran­sit of­fi­cials to give some new thought to the idea of in­stalling safety bar­ri­ers with slid­ing doors on their plat­forms, but of­fi­cials have noted that the chal­lenges would be con­sid­er­able in a sprawl­ing sub­way sys­tem with widely vary­ing ar­chi­tec­ture and dif­fer­ent types of trains.

A fa­tal sub­way push in 1999 led to state leg­is­la­tion, called Ken­dra’s Law in honor of vic­tim Ken­dra Web­dale, al­low­ing su­per­vi­sion of cer­tain psy­chi­atric pa­tients out­side of in­sti­tu­tions to make sure they’re tak­ing med­i­ca­tions and don’t present a pub­lic safety threat.

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