The man accused of brutally killing a woman he "mercilessly stalked" up six flights of stairs before quietly slipping into her Chinatown apartment was indicted for murder and other charges, the Manhattan district attorney said.
Assamad Nash was charged in state supreme court Wednesday in the Feb. 13 slaying of Christina Yuna Lee, in which police said Nash stabbed the victim more than 40 times in the neck and torso. In addition to the murder charge, the 25-year-old Nash was also charged with burglary and burglary as a sexually motivated felony.
“Today’s indictment marks the beginning of our pursuit of justice in the name of Christina Yuna Lee, a bright and beloved New Yorker who should not have had her life cut short in such a violent, shocking manner in her own home,” said District Attorney Alvin Bragg. "Ms. Yuna Lee’s death not only devastated her loved ones, but struck fear into the hearts of our AAPI neighbors, who have already suffered far too much pain in recent years."
The 35-year-old was just getting home from a Saturday night out when she was dropped off at her building on Chrystie Street — and had no idea someone was following her.
The building's landlord said that Nash "mercilessly stalked" his victim, and images obtained by NBC New York showed him following her up the stairs.
"She opened the door and he just slipped in right behind her. She never even knew he was there," said Lee's landlord, Brian Chin.
After following her up the six flights of stairs, Nash allegedly forced his way into her apartment and attacked her, stabbing her dozens of times.
Lee's screams pierced through the building just after 4 a.m., which led two young women who live across the hall to call 911. Officers got to the building in three minutes.
Prosecutors said that Lee was still alive when officers arrived in the building, as they could hear her cries and screams for help, but the door was barricaded.
Emergency Services Unit personnel knocked down a steel door, but Lee went silent as officers were still trying to get into the apartment. They found Lee's body in her bathroom.
Police said they found Nash under Lee's bed, and took him into custody at the scene, with the alleged murder weapon under a dresser.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement that Wednesday's indictment "is another critical step towards delivering justice" for Lee, and sought to address the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes seen in the city and across the country.
"I want members of our AAPI community, and all New Yorkers, to know that we are working around the clock to put an end to this violence and ensure that people in every neighborhood can feel safe in our city," Adams said.
Officials familiar with the case said Nash had five prior felonies and three pending court cases on various matters.
Just five weeks before the alleged killing, Nash had been caught jamming dozens of MetroCard machines in early January. He was released without bail and granted supervised release, but was not ordered to undergo psychological examination by mental health professionals, which could have led to him being recommended for professional treatment.
Nash is believed to have most recently lived at a homeless shelter on The Bowery.
Attorney for Nash was not immediately available.
A memorial dedicated to Lee was damaged multiple times in the weeks following the deadly attack. On March 3, a surveillance camera positioned near the site of the memorial captured a man kicking at the community site, sending flowers, candles and signs flying into the street as he swung at it.
Chin shared video of the incident, and said police are looking for the man and investigating the vandalism as a possible hate crime. The memorial was also vandalized on Feb. 19.
"It has been less than three weeks since her death, and we, and the Chinatown community as a whole, are still grieving," Chin said. "So to see her memorial, which people still continue to leave flowers at and light candles every night, repeatedly and viciously attacked, leaves me with a feeling of anger and sadness that I did not think was still possible."