NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A Queens jury has found a woman guilty of second-degree murder for strangling her 9-year-old stepdaughter in a bathtub in August 2016.
It took a jury less an hour to convict 58-year-old Shamdai Arjun, who now faces 25 years to life in prison at her sentencing June 3.
“This is a horrifying case of a defenseless 9-year-old child, who was to be cared for by her stepmother but was instead strangled to death by her,” said Acting Queens District Attorney John M. Ryan on Monday. “Her actions are truly incomprehensible and deserve the maximum punishment allowed under the law.”
According to trial testimony, Arjun left her home in the Richmond Hill section of Queens on Aug. 19, 2016, around 5:30 p.m. with her ex-husband and two grandchildren, ages 3 and 5.
When asked about Ashdeep Kaur, the missing 9-year-old, investigators said Arjun told her family the child was in the bathroom waiting for her father to pick her up.
Ashdeep had moved from India to be in the care of her father and his wife earlier that year. Family members said the girl told them about past abuse at the hands of her stepmother.
An eyewitness called the girl’s father and told him to break through the bathroom door. When the girl’s father returned home, he asked the super to unlock the apartment door, finding the child naked, bruised and dead in the bathtub. He was overcome with grief and fainted at the scene.
The medical examiner’s office determined that the cause of death was strangulation.