Man Pleads Guilty in Chinatown Killing of Young Woman He Followed

A man pleaded guilty in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday to killing a 35-year old woman in her Chinatown apartment in 2022 in an episode that intensified fears over anti-Asian attacks.

The man, Assamad Nash, 27, whose last address was a homeless shelter on the Bowery, admitted killing Christina Yuna Lee after following her into her apartment, where prosecutors say he attempted to sexually assault her. Mr. Nash pleaded guilty to one count each of second degree murder and sexually motivated burglary.

He is to be sentenced on July 30 to 30 years to life in prison.

“Assamad Nash was held accountable for senselessly taking Christina Yuna Lee’s life,” Alvin L. Bragg, Manhattan’s district attorney, said in a statement Tuesday. “My thoughts are with her family and our community as they continue healing from this tragedy.”

Mr. Nash’s lawyer, Michael Francis Gompers, could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.

In the early morning of Feb. 13, 2022, Mr. Nash followed Ms. Lee into her apartment building on Chrystie Street, forced himself into her home and tried to sexually assault her, according to prosecutors.

Ms. Lee’s neighbors, hearing her cries from her sixth-floor apartment, called 911. When officers arrived a few minutes later, they heard her screams, but were unable to enter the locked door, prosectors said.

When police managed to break into the apartment more than an hour later, they discovered Ms. Lee dead in her bathtub with more than 40 stab wounds. The police also found Mr. Nash hiding under her bed and the knife believed to be the murder weapon hidden behind the dresser.

At a court appearance in November 2022, Mr. Nash was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation, and the following June he was found unfit to stand trial. He was transferred from the Rikers Island jail complex and sent to a state mental-health facility until this February. That month, he was deemed fit for trial and was transferred back to Rikers.

Ms. Lee had graduated from Rutgers University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in art history. She worked as a creative producer for an online music platform in New York City.

Authorities were not able to determine whether her killing was motivated by her ethnicity, but her death sent shock waves through New York’s Asian community at a time when many were already fearful after a rise in attacks during the pandemic.

The killing also alarmed city residents in other neighborhoods, many of whom expressed growing concern during the pandemic about homeless people, including some who appeared to be mentally ill, menacing residents on the street.

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