A Queens, New York, man was arraigned Sunday on charges of fatally stabbing a 60-year-old woman in a case that some in the Muslim community have asked authorities to investigate as a hate crime.
Yonatan Galvez Marin, 22, appeared in Queens Criminal Court on charges of second-degree murder, first-degree attempted robbery, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, the Queens district attorney’s office said in a statement. Judge Michael Katz ordered him held without bail, according to the district attorney.
Nazma Khanam, the aunt of a New York Police Department officer, was walking a little ahead of her husband, 67-year-old MD Shamul Alam Khan, Wednesday night when Galvez Marin allegedly approached her and demanded money, according to the office of Queens DA Richard Brown. Khanam was stabbed once in the chest when she refused, according to the criminal complaint.
Khanam was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.
The fatal stabbing has rattled an already shaken Muslim and Bangladeshi community still reeling over the Aug.13 shooting deaths of a Queens imam and his associate. Similar to that case, Khanam was also reportedly wearing Islamic attire when she was killed, leading some to believe the crime may have been motivated by hate.
Galvez Marin was not charged with a hate crime, nor was 36-year-old Oscar Morel, who last week pleaded not-guilty to murdering Imam Maulana Akonjee and his associate, Thara Uddin. Morel’s alleged motive was still unclear.
“Sadly, the Bangladeshi community once again finds itself having to deal with the senseless murder of one of its own,” Brown said in a statement. “The individual who attempted to rob and attack this defenseless wife and mother as she walked down the street has now been apprehended and will be vigorously prosecuted for this unprovoked and heinous attack.”
While conducting their investigation, NYPD detectives arrested Galvez Marin near the crime scene three days after the the stabbing, authorities said. Galvez Marin lived on the same block as Khanam, prosecutors said.
The Jamaica Muslim Center held a prayer service Friday afternoon for Khanama before her body was to be returned to Bangladesh for burial.
Galvez Marin’s next court date is Sept. 9. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.