Arrest, self defense claim in NYC suitcase body

December 28, 2010 11:36:14 AM PST
A man has been arrested in the death of a woman whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase outside a New York City building.

Police arrested 55-year-old Hassan Malik on a charge of murder Monday in the slaying of Betty Williams, who was found strangled in a suitcase at about 12:15 a.m. Dec. 22.

Police did not say whether the suspect was the same man seen in a surveillance video wheeling the suitcase down a darkened street.

They also didn't say what relationship the suspect might have had with the 28-year-old Bronx victim.

Police say a passer-by rummaging through the trash outside the building on East 114th Street found the suitcase and called 911.

The building is about a block away from Rao's Restaurant, a notable eatery in the neighborhood.

Malik was held without bail after his arraignment Tuesday. He claimed that Williams attacked him first.

A court complaint says Malik told police he returned to his apartment to find Williams dead. The papers say Malik said he choked Williams with an electric cord after she wound it around his neck and hit him with a frying pan.

Prosecutors say forensic evidence will contradict him.

His lawyer says the 55-year-old Malik was about to start a job as a drug counselor.