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Man Held For Killing Homeless Man in Subway Fight

January 23, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ A man who was returning from the movies with his son beat to death a homeless man after an altercation on a subway platform, police said.

Transit Police say the unidentified homeless man started the fight Sunday night by harassing, spitting at and hitting Rodney Sumter, 39, who was returning from the movies with his 3-year-old son.

After the homeless man fell, Sumter banged the man’s head on the concrete platform and kicked him in the head, causing his death, witnesses said.

Sumter, who police said had no criminal record, was charged with first- degree manslaughter. That means he intended to cause physical injury, said Colleen Roche, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.

The criminal complaint did not say what provoked the fight, she said.

The fight occurred in the large underground 59th Street station, one of several in the city that have attracted large numbers of the homeless, who panhandle passengers and sleep on benches.

Witnesses said the homeless man - estimated to be in his 60s - was a regular at the station.

Sumter remained on the platform after the fight and was there when police arrived, police spokesman Al O’Leary said. His wife picked up the child later.

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