Prosecutors in New York City on Wednesday filed burglary and murder charges against a man accused of brutally murdering a 35-year-old Asian woman in her own apartment last month.
Assamad Nash, 25, stands accused of murdering Christina Yuna Lee, who was stabbed some 40 times inside her bathroom during the early morning hours on Feb. 13, 2022. The suspect was arrested after allegedly barricading himself inside the victim’s Chrystie Street apartment building and trying to flee down a fire escape.
Nash was originally criminally charged after being publicly walked into jail on Valentine’s Day. Wednesday’s charges come by way of a formal New York State Supreme Court indictment. (In New York, the Supreme Court is a trial-level bench that can hear myriad cases within a given county; the highest court is the New York State Court of Appeals.)
“Today’s indictment marks the beginning of our pursuit of justice in the name of Christina Yuna Lee, a bright and beloved New Yorker who should not have had her life cut short in such a violent, shocking manner in her own home,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a press release. “Ms. Yuna Lee’s death not only devastated her loved ones, but struck fear into the hearts of our AAPI neighbors, who have already suffered far too much pain in recent years. All New Yorkers deserve to be safe and secure, and we will ensure accountability for this senseless murder.”
According to prosecutors, Nash, a homeless man who had recently been living at a shelter in the nearby Bowery neighborhood, watched his alleged victim from the street as she entered her building at around 4:20 a.m. on the day in question. He then allegedly followed her inside and up six flights of stairs. As Yuna Lee opened her door, Nash then allegedly ran up behind her and shoved his way inside.
Two minutes later, neighbors phoned 911, describing sounds of a struggle, including a woman’s voice screaming for help, the DA says. Eventually, officers from the NYPD’s 5th Precinct, roughly three blocks away, arrived at the victim’s door. According to Bragg, arriving officers “heard her calling for help inside, but could not gain entry.”
Law enforcement broke the door down at approximately 5:40 a.m., but by then it was far too late for the creative producer who used her professional work for Splice and reportedly spent her free time raising awareness for and fighting against anti-Asian hatred.
I will miss you so much Christina pic.twitter.com/HqgS1DzOAu
— stream “Interference” (@kennethtakanami) February 14, 2022
“This is why we all feel scared and angry and so sad,” New York State Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou (D), who currently represents Chinatown in the Empire State’s lower legislature along with the majority of the neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan, told Law&Crime in an interview last month. “Asian-Americans feel like we have a target on our backs. People in our own country, state, city, and neighborhood hate us. It is frightening and upsetting to live every day wondering if this is the day you will be murdered simply for being Asian-American.”
Yuna Lee’s assailant has not been charged with a hate crime, however, and may not be, though community leaders in New York City’s various Chinatowns insist that doesn’t diminish the fear that Asian women, in particular, currently feel across the country right now.
According to the DA’s office, the defendant was first spotted by law enforcement with a yellow object in his hand while trying to exit through a window but went back inside when he saw a police officer on the roof above. As officers finally made their way through the victim’s front door, the DA said, Nash was found hiding underneath a mattress. A bloodied “yellow-handled kitchen knife” was allegedly found hidden behind a dresser.
The deceased woman’s body was found in her bathtub with at least 40 stab wounds to her torso, head and neck.
Nash has been charged with one count of murder in the first degree, one count of burglary in the first degree, and one count of burglary as a sexually motivated felony. He faces life in prison if convicted.
The case against the defendant is being prosecuted by Assistant D.A. Dafna Yoran under the supervision of Executive Assistant D.A. Joyce Smith. Assistant D.A. Dasha Kabakova has also been assisting.
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