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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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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