An Indian-origin woman in the US has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for strangling her nine-year-old stepdaughter to death, a crime described as “unimaginable” by the court.
Shamdai Arjun, 55, from Queens, New York was convicted last month of second-degree murder by a jury that deliberated for less than one hour before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder. She was sentenced Monday to an indeterminate term of 22 years to life in prison.
“The defendant in this case goes beyond the tales of evil stepmothers. This defendant committed the unimaginable – she wrapped her hands around her stepdaughter’s little neck and squeezed the life out of her,” Acting Queens District Attorney John Ryan said in a harsh statement after the verdict.
“The victim was an innocent child and just nine years old. The Court has imposed a sentence that will likely guarantee this woman never sees freedom again. The sentence of the Court is more than warranted in this tragic case,” Ryan said.
According to trial testimony, on the evening of August 19, 2016, she was observed by an eyewitness leaving her apartment in Queens along with her ex-husband Raymond Narayan, and her two grandchildren aged 3 and 5. When asked about the nine-year-old victim’s whereabouts, she informed the eyewitness that the child was in the bathroom and was waiting for her father to pick her up.
The eyewitness, who observed that the bathroom light had been on for several hours, called the girl’s father Sukhjinder Singh and was instructed to break through the bathroom door. He found the child’s naked body in the bathtub. There were several bruises on her body.
A report filed by the Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the cause of death was manual strangulation.
In 2016, Queens Assistant District Attorney Michael Curtis had said that the woman repeatedly threatened to kill the young girl.