A crowd quickly gathered outside the home as news spread of the horrific crime.
By Michael V. Cusenza
A Richmond Hill woman has been sentenced to 22 years to life in prison for the murder of her stepdaughter—a 9-year-old child who had recently immigrated to this country to be reunited with her father and his new family, Acting Queens District Attorney John Ryan announced on Monday.
Last month, a jury convicted Shamdai Arjun, 55, of second-degree murder after deliberating for less than an hour, Ryan noted.
According to trial testimony, at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 19, 2016, Arjun was seen by an eyewitness exiting the family’s 112th Street home and getting into a car with her former husband, Raymond Narayan, 65, and her two grandchildren, ages 3 and 5. She was asked about her stepdaughter, Ashdeep Kaur, and why the light was on so long in the bathroom. Arjun informed the eyewitness that the child was in the bathroom taking a shower and was waiting for her father to pick her up.
The eyewitness, who told detectives that she had observed a light on in the home’s bathroom since at least 3 p.m. and that “upon knocking on [the bathroom] door she received no response,” called the victim’s father and was instructed to break down the bathroom door. The witness called her own brother to help her gain entry into the windowless bathroom; after he broke down the door, the witness said she saw Ashdeep lying in the bathtub unresponsive.
A report filed by the Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the cause of death was manual strangulation.
Detectives responded to the residence of Arjun’s ex-husband and observed both Arjun and Narayan and the two grandchildren inside the apartment. Arjun allegedly refused to come out and refused to allow entry for more than an hour. Narayan later opened the door and both were apprehended.
According to the complaint, an investigator said he saw “scratches on Arjun’s neck and bruising on her left arm.”
Narayan was charged with misdemeanor obstructing governmental administration.
“The defendant in this case goes beyond the tales of evil stepmothers. This defendant committed the unimaginable—she wrapped her hands around her stepdaughter’s little neck and squeezed the life out of her,” Ryan said. “The victim was an innocent child and just 9 years old. The Court has imposed a sentence that will likely guarantee this woman never sees freedom again. The sentence of the Court is more than warranted in this tragic case.”