Martial Simon, the schizophrenic man accused of fatally pushing a woman in front of a subway in January, will be sent to a locked mental facility indefinitely after prosecutors agreed on Tuesday to dismiss a finding he was unfit to face charges. to stand, not to fight.
Simon, 61, was declared unfit last month by psychiatrists at the Bellevue Hospital Center, said his attorney, H. Mitchell Schuman. Simon had been held in Bellevue since his arrest on January 15. He was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Michelle Alyssa Go, 40, who lived on the Upper West Side and worked at the consulting firm Deloitte.
The brief hearing Tuesday at a Manhattan courthouse, at which Mr. Simon failed to appear, puts his criminal case on hold, the district attorney’s office said. If he is ever fit to stand trial, the case will resume. Mr. Simon will likely be sent either to the Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on Wards Island off Manhattan or to the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center, about an hour northwest of New York City, Mr. Schuman said.
Mr. Simon, a former taxi driver and parking attendant who began showing signs of schizophrenia in his 30s, spent decades jumping from hospitals to prisons to get outpatient programs onto the streets without ever stabilizing for long.
Simon’s arrest came amid an uptick in crime, with a jump in the number of people being pushed onto the subway lines — an average of more than two a month in 2021 — and indiscriminate attacks above and below ground linked to the mentally ill homeless. people. City and state officials pledged to improve their care coordination. The state budget approved by lawmakers and the governor this month will expand the use of Kendra’s Law, allowing courts to impose treatment on those who pose a danger to themselves or others.
Mr. Simon’s journey has uncovered holes in the mental health system, in which no single entity is responsible for the well-being of New York’s most critically ill. During the pandemic, some social service providers who work with the homeless have said hospitals even refused to admit psychiatric patients they found too distracting.
Simon had complained to a friend for years that doctors kept releasing him from hospitals and psychiatric facilities before he was stable, and Mr. Schuman of the New York County Defender Services estimated that he had been hospitalized at least 20 times.
His criminal record was relatively modest: he has been convicted twice for robbing a taxi driver, and in 2019 a crack pipe charge was dismissed after he was found unfit to stand trial. But in 2017, he told a psychiatrist at a state-run mental hospital that it was only a matter of time before he would push a woman to the track, according to a homeless advocate who was given access to some of his medical records. † He was fired shortly afterwards, the lawyer said, speaking on a condition of anonymity to protect the person who provided access to the data.
Mr Simon’s lawyer, Mr Schuman, said he spoke to his client on Tuesday and that he appeared “unchanged” since shortly after his arrest, when Mr Schuman discovered that he often fell into gibberish.
“You can have a superficial conversation with him,” said Mr. Schuman. “But he can’t help with his defense.”