A man accused of using a butcher knife to kill five of his relatives, including four children, was formally arraigned Monday on murder charges. NY1's Steve Kastenbaum filed the following report.
Mingdong Chen, 25, appeared in court Monday in an oversized sweatshirt and sweatpants. The blood-soaked clothing he was wearing when he was arrested is now evidence.
He hardly even blinked as the charges were read aloud, with a translator whispering Mandarin in his ear.
The judge agreed with the prosecutor, who said there should be no bail.
Chen did not enter a plea to five counts each of murder in the first and second degree.
He's accused of stabbing and slashing his cousin's wife and four children to death with a kitchen knife Saturday night.
In Sunset Park, the few people we spoke with who were acquainted with Mingdong Chen said he couldn't hold down a job and he seemed to be unhappy.
"He no money, first. Second, no happy. Third, smoke too much," said one person. "I know this guy before in Chinatown. A lot of smoking."
One man said he saw Mingdong Chen a few times when he was in the neighborhood and worked briefly with him in a restaurant.
He said that shortly before the violence, the alleged killer called a cousin and said he wanted to stay with his relatives a few more days because he had no money.
"He called her and said, 'I want to stay here a couple of days because I don't have a job. Couple days, I get out,'" the man said. "He said, 'OK.'"
Tian Ya lives in the basement apartment beneath the victims' home. On Saturday night, he heard crying coming from above.
"They were crying. That is to say, a female and a male were crying," he said through an interpreter.
He said he didn't think much of it because he said the family often made a lot of noise.
According to the criminal complaint filed in court, when relatives came back to this home and discovered the gruesome scene, Mingdong Chen allegedly said, "I know I am done."
No psychiatric evaluation was ordered. He's expected back in court on Friday.