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Opinion: Than Htwe’s killer was convicted but justice was not served

BY KARLIN CHAN | In a plea deal agreed to with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office last month, David Robinson was sentenced on Friday to one to three years in prison for the death of Than Htwe.

Htwe, 58, was exiting the Canal Street station subway on July 17, 2021, with her son for a day of shopping and a visit to a Buddhist temple in Chinatown, when Robinson grabbed the son’s backpack, causing mother and son to fall down a flight of stairs.

Htwe sustained severe head trauma in the fall. She eventually succumbed to her injuries. Meanwhile, Robinson evaded capture for several months.

Robinson was eventually arrested in September 2021 and charged with first-degree manslaughter. Citing difficulty in winning a conviction to Htwe’s family, the D.A.’s office allowed Robinson to plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter with a sentence recommendation of one to three years.

Since Robinson has been incarerated since his arrest in September 2021, with 14 months’ time already served, he can technically be released tomorrow. Justice was not served here.

Chan is a Chinatown community activist and member of Community Board 3.


  1. alvi alvi January 30, 2023

    this is because the policies of many DAs that are black that protect their own, citing racism or social economic struggles that say lead to violence. Alvin Bragg should be recalled. There is a great injustice going on against people of color being assaulted, murdered and robbed and letting them go based on some type of “mental illness” or “social economic struggles” Like these immigrants didnt go through economic struggles themselves. The biggest gaslighting in history. This country is allowing this to happen to wipe out asians due to the cold war in china, remember what they did to the japanese, well most americans dont care about asian struggles. Remember this.,

    • I agree. This was yet another disgraceful plea arranged by Bragg’s office. He should be recalled tomorrow. The irony is that many of these criminals he’s letting skate go back and terrorize the very communities he’s supposedly trying to protect. So, what exactly is he doing? Damned If i know. But, he needs to go.

  2. Beverly Banks Beverly Banks January 6, 2023

    Although this was terrible, I understand why it wasn’t first- or second-degree murder. It was because his intention was only to steal her backpack. If she handed the backpack over, she would probably still be alive. I was held up in the subway a number of years ago with a long knife pointed at me. I just handed my bag over and he ran off. There was a kind woman who found my bag in her office building lobby and brought it to my address a few blocks away. I even got most of my money back, because it wasn’t in my wallet. Thank God for honest people.

    • Jason Mann Jason Mann February 6, 2023

      This is victim blaming. Plus, if you had read about the case, this guy grabbed at the son’s bag as they were walking up the stairs which led to him falling backwards and grabbed at his mom out of instinct leading to her falling down the stairs. Don’t make excuses for evil people. People who killed people due to DUI have gotten harsher punishment than him. To me, his crime is the same if not worse than those who killed due to DUI.

  3. Carol Yost Carol Yost December 8, 2022

    I’m not sure mental illness can be dismissed as a cause. If people really are mentally ill, they hardly know what they’ve done.

  4. Gojira Gojira December 5, 2022

    Absolutely disgusting. I am so sick of mental illness being used as an excuse to let people literally get away with murder; there needs to be much harsher punishment in cases like these, and bail reform needs to be completely revamped again to have some teeth put back into it.

    • LES3025 LES3025 December 6, 2022

      What do you think bail reform had to do with this situation? This guy didn’t make bail.

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