Woman sentenced for pushing commuter to her death in subway
New YorkThe Associated Press

NEW YORK—A woman who pushed a commuter to her death in front of a New York City subway train just days after being released from a psychiatric facility was sentenced Friday to 20 years to life in prison.

Melanie Liverpool, 33, admitted shoving 49-year-old Connie Watton off a subway platform at the Times Square station in 2016—a harrowing crime that made headlines and tapped into a common fear of New Yorkers.

Liverpool was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to her attorney, Aaron Wallenstein, and had been released from a psychiatric facility just five days before the killing. She pleaded guilty to murder last month.

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The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., condemned the killing as an “unconscionable crime.”

“Now, thanks to the NYPD and my office’s prosecutors, she will serve significant prison time for this horrific act of violence,” Vance said in a statement.

Wallenstein told The Associated Press that his client is remorseful but intends to appeal the sentence. He called the case a “tragedy, no matter how you look at it.”

“A woman lost her life and Ms. Liverpool took responsibility,” Wallenstein said. “She led an exemplary life until she had these illnesses and issues.”

The attack was witnessed by several commuters, including one who followed Liverpool and pointed her out to police officers. When officers asked her what happened, prosecutors said, Liverpool told them she had pushed a person onto the tracks.

The authorities said that Liverpool, before being admitted to the psychiatric ward, falsely claimed to have pushed another woman to her death in front of an oncoming train at Union Square station.

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Police deemed that woman’s death a suicide, but prosecutors argued in court papers that Liverpool’s false claim demonstrated “a motive or reason to commit this otherwise senseless and purposeless crime.”

The suicide Liverpool witnessed “helped put in her mind the ideas and thoughts that led to” Watton’s killing, Assistant District Attorney David Drucker wrote in a court filing.

New York Subway Incidents

In a separate incident, Keira Keeley, a 35-year-old actress, approached 57-year-old Leonore Gonzalez on the morning of Oct. 7, 2017. Keeley tried to shove Gonzalez in the path of an oncoming train, before Gonzalez knew what was happening. Gonzalez managed to hang onto a pillar and prevented the shove from pushing her onto the tracks.

A police officer heard a scream, and witnesses told police what Keeley had just done. Gonzalez told police she didn’t see Keeley until after the push. She sustained bruises on her elbow and wrist, along with back pain due to the incident, the New York Post reported.

Keeley first told police that she bumped Gonzalez and then tried to grab her so she wouldn’t fall. She later added that she and her boyfriend had been drinking, and that she had four glasses of wine. She also admitted to feeling drunk, but denied she tried to harm anyone.

Keeley was charged with attempted assault with intent to injure with a weapon. She was in detention for two days before posting $7,500 bail. The incident was not caught on video.

Keeley mostly performed in Off-Broadway theater productions. She won an award for her portrayal in “The Glass Menagerie,” Actors’ Equity reported. Her TV appearances include episodes of “The Path,” “Elementary,” and “Rubicon,” according to her IMDB profile.

However, Keeley’s charges were light compared with a Chicago train-pushing incident. A man who received a doctorate faced charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery. The victim was hit in the back and fell onto the tracks. As he tried to climb back onto the platform, the man believed to be the assailant blocked his way and blocked others from helping him, but others in the station figured out a way to get the victim out.

The victim described the impact as “a full-on running push” to the Chicago Tribune. He added that the man seemed like “a lion looking at his prey, that’s kinda what it looked like to me.”

Epoch Times reporter Colin Fredericson contributed to this article.