Christina Yuna Lee was trapped early Sunday morning, screaming for help after a knife-wielding stranger followed her into her sixth-floor Chinatown apartment. But her cries were answered far too late.
Prosecutors said the stranger, Assamad Nash, 25, allegedly stabbed Lee, 35, more than 40 times — leaving her partially naked and lying in a pool of her own blood inside the bathroom.
Nash was taken into custody following a brief standoff with police at the scene, and later charged with first-degree murder. He had been out on supervised release after being arrested three times in four months last fall for misdemeanor crimes including assault, illegally selling MetroCard swipes and vandalizing MetroCard vending machines in the subway system.
But Nash is now behind bars indefinitely after being arraigned Monday night in New York Criminal Court on the murder charge. Judge Jay Weiner, who presided over the arraignment, remanded Nash without bail after Assistant District Attorney Dafna Yoran outlined on the record the grisly details of the heinous crime that has shocked and horrified an entire community.
According to prosecutors, Lee arrived at her Chrystie Street residence at about 4:20 a.m. on Feb. 13, ascending the six flights of stairs leading to her walk-up apartment. Nash allegedly followed her inside just as the front door was closing.
The motive for Nash’s actions remains under investigation; the Manhattan DA’s office is examining whether Nash allegedly targeted Lee based on her race. For now, he was additionally booked on two first-degree burglary charges, one of which was described as “sexually motivated.”
Just as Lee entered her apartment, authorities said, Nash allegedly pushed his way inside and closed the door behind her. Neighbors reported hearing screams coming from within Lee’s apartment, prompting them to call 911.
Officers from the 5th Precinct arrived moments later outside the apartment door, but they were unable to get in. Prosecutors said they could hear Lee screaming for help from the other side — when suddenly, all went quiet.
Seconds later, according to prosecutors, Nash allegedly imitated Lee’s voice, claiming that all was fine. He then allegedly attempted to exit the apartment via the fire escape, only to go back inside after seeing an officer waiting on the roof above him. The officer observed Nash allegedly holding an object, later determined to be a knife, in his hand.
At about 5:40 a.m. Sunday morning, members of the NYPD Emergency Services Unit finally gain access to Lee’s apartment. They found Nash hiding under a bed and took him into custody; he had a stab wound to his torso, and cuts on his hands and shoulders, according to prosecutors.
Inside the bathroom, officers found Lee, naked from the waist up and covered in blood, having been stabbed more than 40 times about her torso. EMS units subsequently pronounced her dead at the scene.
Nash was wearing an apparently blood-stained shirt as he was escorted from the 5th Precinct in handcuffs on Feb. 14. He verbally denied any wrongdoing to the throng of photographers and reporters covering his perp walk.
Judge Weiner ordered Nash to return to court on Feb. 18. Should he be convicted of the first-degree murder charge, Nash faces a maximum sentence of life without parole.