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New York City woman pushed down church stairs out of ICU, family says

Arraignment delayed for teen accused of pushing woman down NYC church stairs
Arraignment delayed for teen accused of pushing woman down NYC church stairs 01:20

NEW YORK -- The family of a woman who suffered a fractured skull after being pushed down stairs outside a New York City church said Friday she's out of the ICU and starting to string together sentences. 

Police said a 16-year-old boy pushed, punched and robbed the 68-year-old woman on the steps of Saint Demetrios Church in Queens, which she goes to every Sunday. 

CBS New York obtained exclusive video showing the woman walking on the sidewalk moment before the attack on April 7. It shows the suspect crossing the street from the opposite sidewalk. 

Attack caught on video

The woman's relative, Daniel Hill, said videos of the attack are hard to watch, but he believes they tell the full story of just how brutal of an attack it was. 

"In the video, she doesn't even turn around. She can't even tell that there's anybody behind her right until he's right in front of her, punching her in the face," said Hill. "The individual watched her from her car and followed her up the church stairs, where then he punched her." 

New video shows the aftermath of the attack, where the suspect runs away with the woman's purse. Police said the woman's cellphone, credit card, keys and $300 were in the bag. 

Police said the suspect fled in the woman's 2006 Nissan Altima.   

Video shows man rob woman after pushing her down church stairs 01:50

"He just went and punched her. We don't think there was any 'give me your keys, give me your wallet,'" said Hill. 

"The viciousness with which the defendant is accused of having committed the robbery at the church struck the city at its core. As alleged, he chose to rob an elderly woman by first pushing her down the stairs and then proceeded to take her purse and leave her to suffer while he took off in her car. He will now have to answer for the serious charges levied against him by my office," Queens DA Melinda Katz said. 

The woman's car was recovered about three miles from the scene. It was not damaged and nothing else appeared to be stolen. 

"He took her belongings and he went down the block and she was able to get back up," said Hill. "She ended up walking all the way home with a fractured skull and then actually returning to the scene of the crime." 

The woman was hospitalized with a fractured skull and bleeding on her brain. She was still unable to move on her own five days after she was hospitalized. 

"Just a day ago, she started actually, instead of us having the conversation with her, when somebody walked in the room she said 'Hi' to them. So showing good signs," said Hill. "She's really just an amazing woman. Anything I would need, she would be there." 

A neighbor who knows the woman, a beloved mother and grandmother, described her as sweet and quiet. 

"It makes me think about my own mom, you know. My mom is getting older, so when she's walking by herself and something like that could happen to her, yeah, it hits home," said Jorge Canales.

Suspect arrested 3 times before attack 

Police said the teen suspect was arrested three times in Queens before the attack outside the church. 

They said he robbed a woman of her cash and car keys in Rochdale Village three days earlier. He went on to steal that woman's car too, prosecutors said. 

The teen, who Katz said is likely to be charged as an adult, was due to make his first court appearance Friday, but sources said his arraignment was delayed because he tried to choke himself with his T-shirt while in custody and was hospitalized.

He did not appear to have any physical injuries, but will likely have a psych evaluation before coming to court, the sources said. 

The woman's family hopes the suspect faces the maximum penalty, since she remains in a hospital bed. 

"I think it's absolutely bizarre that it's a 16-year-old," said Hill. "But at the same time, I'm not shocked." 

If convicted, Katz's office said the teen faces up to 25 years in prison. 

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