Martial Simon, the schizophrenic man accused of fatally shoving a woman in front of a subway train in January, will be sent to a locked psychiatric facility indefinitely, after prosecutors agreed Tuesday not to contest a finding that he is unfit to stand trial.
Mr. Simon, 61, was declared unfit by Bellevue Hospital Center psychiatrists last month, said his lawyer, H. Mitchell Schuman. Mr. Simon had been held at Bellevue since his arrest Jan. 15. He was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Michelle Alyssa Go, 40, who lived on the Upper West Side and worked at the consulting firm Deloitte.
The brief hearing Tuesday at a Manhattan courthouse, at which Mr. Simon did not appear, puts his criminal case into suspension, the district attorney’s office said. If he is ever fit to stand trial, the case will resume. Mr. Simon will probably be sent either to Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on Wards Island off Manhattan or to Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center, about an hour northwest of New York City, Mr. Schuman said.
Mr. Simon, a former cabby and parking-lot manager who started showing signs of schizophrenia in his 30s, spent decades bouncing from hospitals to jails to outpatient programs to the streets without ever being stabilized for long.
Mr. Simon’s arrest came amid an increase in crime, with a jump in the number of people pushed to the subway tracks — an average of more than two a month in 2021 — and random-seeming attacks above and below ground linked to mentally ill homeless people. City and state officials vowed to improve their coordination of care. The state budget that legislators and the governor agreed to this month will expand the use of Kendra’s Law, which lets courts mandate treatment for those who are a danger to themselves or others.
Mr. Simon’s journey exposed holes in the system of mental health care, in which no one entity is responsible for the well-being of the most severely ill New Yorkers. During the pandemic, some social-service providers who work with the homeless have said that hospitals were even refusing to admit psychiatric patients they found too disruptive.
Mr. Simon had complained to a friend for years that doctors kept discharging him from hospitals and psychiatric facilities before he was stable, and Mr. Schuman, of New York County Defender Services, estimated he had been hospitalized at least 20 times.
His criminal record was relatively modest: He has two convictions for trying to rob a cabdriver, and in 2019 a charge of possessing a crack pipe was dismissed after he was found unfit to stand trial. But in 2017, he told a psychiatrist at a state-run psychiatric hospital that it was just a matter of time before he pushed a woman to the train tracks, according to an advocate for homeless people who was given access to some of his medical records. He was discharged soon after, said the advocate, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect the person who allowed access to the records.
Mr. Simon’s lawyer, Mr. Schuman, said that he spoke to his client Tuesday and that he seemed “unchanged” from shortly after his arrest, when Mr. Schuman found that he frequently lapsed into gibberish.
“You can have a superficial conversation with him,” Mr. Schuman said. “But he can’t assist in his defense.”