Richmond Hill

NYC Woman Convicted of Strangling 9-Year-Old Stepdaughter in Bathtub

What to Know

  • A 55-year-old Queens woman has been convicted of murder for strangling her 9-year-old stepdaughter in a bathtub in August 2016
  • It took a jury less than an hour to convict Shamdai Arjun; her ex-husband previously was charged with obstruction in the case
  • The body was found when a concerned neighbor called the victim's father; he told her to break down the bathroom door and she found the girl

A 55-year-old Queens woman has been convicted of strangling her 9-year-old stepdaughter in a bathtub two and a half years ago, a crime a neighbor discovered in all its horror when she broke down the locked bathroom door.

It took a jury less than an hour to convict Shamdai Arjun of murder in the August 2016 strangulation death of the little girl, who lived with Arjun at her Richmond Hill home, the Queens district attorney's office said Monday.

According to trial testimony, a witness saw Arjun leaving her home around 5:30 p.m. Aug. 19, 2016 with her ex-husband Raymond Narayan and her two grandchildren, ages 3 and 5. The witness asked where the 9-year-old was, and Arjun said the girl was in the bathroom waiting for her father to pick her up. The witness, who testified the bathroom light had been on for at least 2.5 hours prior to that conversation, called the victim's father and he told her to break down the bathroom door. When she did, she saw the girl dead in the bathtub. 

The medical examiner ruled the girl died of manual strangulation. Arjun's ex-husband was charged with obstructing police shortly after she was arrested, though the status of his case wasn't immediately clear Monday. 

"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," Acting Queens District Attorney John Ryan said in a statement. "Her actions are truly incomprehensible and deserve the maximum punishment allowed under the law."

Arjun faces up to life in prison when she is sentenced next month.

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