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Saturday, April 4, 2020

The First Coronavirus-Involved Criminal Homicide Case

     On Saturday, March 28, 2020, at two in the afternoon, Janie Marshall from the Williamsville section of Brooklyn, New York was in the emergency room at the Woodhill Medical Center in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of the borough. As the 86-year-old stood in a hallway waiting to be treated for a bowel obstruction, she touched a metal stand near a chair on which 32-year-old Cassandra Lundy was seated. Lundy was awaiting psychiatric treatment. Without warning, the psychiatric patient leaped from her chair and smacked Janie Marshall in the face, knocking the elderly woman off her feet. When she fell, the victim's head bounced off the floor.

     When questioned in the emergency room by a hospital police officer, Cassandra Lundy said, regarding the woman she had smacked to the ground, "She didn't stay more than six feet away." Lundy was referring to, of course, the COVID-19 policy of social distancing. The police officer issued Lundy a summons ( ticket) for disorderly conduct. The assailant left the hospital without being treated, or arrested for the brutal assault of an 86-year-old woman.

     The assault had been captured on a hospital surveillance camera.

     About three and a half hours later, while awaiting a CT scan, Janie Marshall died.

     Hospital personnel, claiming they were swamped with coronavirus patients, didn't notify Janie Marshall's family about her death until ten-thirty that night. And when they did, they told a family member she had died of heart failure. It's not clear how the hospital would have known this since the autopsy had not been conducted. Moreover, there was no mention of the fact Janie Marshall had died after being assaulted by another hospital patient.

     On Monday, March 30, 2020, a forensic pathologist with the New York City Medical Examiner's Officer performed the Marshall autopsy and ruled that the victim had died from heart disease with blunt force trauma as a contributing factor. For some reason, this cause of death determination was backward: In fact, Jamie Marshall had died of blunt force trauma with heart disease as a contributing factor.

     Following the autopsy, Cassandra Lundy was charged with manslaughter and assault. However, officers with the NYPD didn't take her into custody until Thursday, April 2, 2020.

     Cassandra Lundy had been arrested 17 times for offenses such as criminal trespass, drug possession, and assault. One of the assault cases included an incident where she strangled a person. Information regarding her mental health history and whether or not she had served time in prison was not made public. Reportage did not reveal if bail had been set or if she was being held in custody.

     Janie Marshall, born in South Carolina, moved to New York City when she was 17. She earned a bachelor's degree from City College, and was one of the first African-American women to work an accounting job for the Social Security Administration. She had 12 siblings, and had never married.

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