Tag Archives: fit

Arrest in 2009 murder, rape of Astoria student

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Updated Thursday, September 26, 2:00 p.m.

Four years after the brutal killing of a 23-year-old Astoria student, police have arrested a man for her rape and murder.

Jose Martinez, 30, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection to the July 2009 death of Carmen Saldana, according to District Attorney Richard Brown. He has also been charged with rape, predatory sexual assault, kidnapping, criminal sexual act, burglary, unlawful imprisonment, petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.

The body of Saldana, a Fashion Institute of Technology student, was discovered by her mother inside their 30th Avenue home, lying face up in her mother’s bed, wrapped in a comforter and completely nude with bruises on her knees and right side of her body, according to police sources.

Two days later, the medical examiner’s office classified her death as a homicide by asphyxiation.

The night she was killed, Saldana had attended a party in Long Island City, and, based on video evidence, had left there unaccompanied, around 1:30 a.m., said officials.

As Saldana was heading home from that party, Martinez saw her on the street and allegedly offered to walk her home, said Brown. When they reached  Saldana’s apartment, she refused his request to come inside. At that point, he allegedly kicked in the apartment’s front door, forced his way inside and then allegedly raped and killed the victim, said Brown.

Martinez, a former Queens resident, has been in prison since pleading guilty last year to reckless endangerment in connection to a 2011 arrest for attacking a cab driver at LaGuardia Airport. He was scheduled to be released today.

A DNA sample he was required to submit because of that conviction, said the district attorney, was matched to DNA evidence that was collected at the murder scene and stored in a database.

Martinez was indicted in court today and held without bail. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years to life in prison.



Brooklyn resident, Mallory Hagan, wins Miss America crown

| hchin@homereporternews.com

Photo courtesy of Miss America Organization

Brooklyn resident and the reigning Miss New York 2012, Mallory Hagan, won the tiara and title of Miss America 2013 on Saturday night, at the annual beauty pageant in Las Vegas.

Hagan, 23, is a Park Slope resident and Alabama native who is studying Advertising & Marketing with a focus on Cosmetic & Fragrance Marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology. In addition to the crown, Hagan won a $50,000 college scholarship.

Besides her professional interest in the cosmetics industry, she has also made it her mission to tackle child sexual abuse awareness and prevention – a cause dear to her heart as it hits close to home. As part of her Miss New York and Miss America campaign, Hagan has made the issue her central platform and shared the personal stories and experiences of women in her family in order to encourage others to take a stand.

Organizations that she supports include Stop It Now!, Darkness to Light and Safe Horizon.

Hagan clinched the competition after tap dancing to James Brown’s “Get Up Off of That Thing” and responding readily to a question about whether grade schools should have armed guards by saying: ““I don’t think the proper way to fight violence is with violence.”

Hagan will now embark on a nationwide tour to promote the Miss America Organization and its scholarship program.

The last Miss New York to be crowned Miss America was actress and model Vanessa Williams, in 1984.

Photo by Claire Buffie

Man goes from Queens to ‘Project Runway’

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Barbara Nitke

When Ven Budhu was five years old, he saw the Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast.” It was a life-changing experience. Soon after, he was drawing Belle’s gown, and a lifelong love for women’s evening wear was born. Twenty three years later, he is designing dresses and is a contestant on “Project Runway.”

Budhu is appearing on season 10 of the Lifetime network reality competition, in which 16 designers battle for a chance to win $100,000 to start a fashion line, an exclusive collection at Lord & Taylor, a spread in Marie Claire magazine and other prizes.

In each episode the contestants are given a design challenge. After four episodes, Budhu has yet to hear “auf wiedersehen” from host Heidi Klum, and has won two challenges.

In between those first fashion sketches and the reality competition, Budhu, 28, learned a lot about clothing design.

Born in Guyana, he emigrated to America when he was four years old and grew up in South Ozone Park. Although he always had an interest in evening wear, it also helped his future fashion career living in a house with three older sisters.

After receiving associate and bachelor’s degrees from the Fashion Institute of Technology, during which he spent a year studying in Florence, Italy, he worked as a freelance fashion designer.

Last year he started his own fashion company, Gavaskar, which he runs out of his Kew Gardens apartment. Not straying far from the passion he’s had since childhood, he mostly focuses on high-end women’s ready-to-wear and evening clothing, and describes his style as “romanticism married with modern sophistication.”

His designs garnered some high-profile attention when he was selected as one of four emerging designers to participate in a runway show during this past February’s New York Fashion Week.

Now, as a “Project Runway” contestant, he knows that even if he doesn’t win, he can accelerate his design career.

“I thought about it for a long time,” said Budhu who has been a “Project Runway” fan since it premiered. “I’m still young and wanted to try out before I regretted it. The worst thing is regret.”

As expected, he was surprised when he landed one of the designer spots.

“When I found out, I was in an office, and couldn’t be as loud as I wanted to be,” he said.
He was also excited to be the first Indian contestant on the show.

Lifetime’s season 10 of “Project Runway,” which premiered on July 20, is still filming, and Budhu could only discuss the episodes that have already aired.

“Honestly, I was so in shock,” Budhu said about his wins in episodes two and three.

In particular, his episode three win was meaningful because the challenge was to create a red carpet dress for a past “Project Runway” designer to wear to the Emmy Awards. For years, Budhu has been obsessed with pre-award shows.

He describes his experience on the show so far as both fun and intense.

“Living with people you don’t really know and trying to get along with everyone is challenging,” he said, “especially with being away from family and your everyday life.”

But he believes his fashion industry experience has prepared him for the show.

“I know mentally and emotionally I’m very strong and I can handle the criticism.”

To see if Budhu wins season 10 of “Project Runway,” watch him on Lifetime Thursdays at 9 p.m.

St. Mary’s gets a ‘sweet’ lesson

| mchan@queenscourier.com


Students at St. Mary Gate of Heaven School learned a sweet lesson — just in time for Halloween.

World’s Finest Chocolate — the leading provider of chocolate fundraising products — made a stop off its national tour in Ozone Park on Tuesday, October 11 to raise the [chocolate] bar in portion control. The chocolatiers came to promote the message of “eating right and staying fit,” bringing the world’s largest chocolate bar with them to Queens.

“We’ve taken it up as our responsibility to raise awareness of the need to have a healthy lifestyle, eat right and stay fit,” said tour director Sarah Lynn Brannan. “The giant chocolate bar is just meant to get the kids’ attention, and it definitely works. After that, we’re able to talk to them about that message.”

Certified by Guinness World Records, the world’s largest chocolate bar weighs 12,190 pounds and has 209,000 servings. It is four feet wide, three feet high and 21 feet long.

“The chocolate looks really good. I want to eat it,” said eighth-grader Miranda. “It showed us that when we eat chocolate, we still have to stay fit, and we have to be active.”

Along with healthy eating and portion control, St. Mary students learned that it’s okay to eat chocolate once in a while — as long as it’s eaten in moderation and not in large amounts.

“I think it’s really important to instill that message in them at a young age when they’re developing lifestyle habits, so they can carry that on with them,” Brannan said.

Before all 500 kids could line up and get a whiff of the chocolate aroma one at a time, they watched an educational video and — after a quick and interactive question-and-answer session to see if they were paying attention — they learned a specially-choreographed exercise dance.

“It’s a good idea to get the kids to know that they need to watch what they eat,” said Principal Patrick Scannell. “That’s part of this country’s problem now – obesity – and that’s because going to McDonald’s and super-sizing your meal is not good for you. It’s quite an idea.”

Scannell said he noticed that the adults were more interested in the chocolate bar than the kids were.

Fifth grade teacher Gina Faraon said she couldn’t stop looking at the massive chocolate bar, not because her sweet tooth was aching, but because she couldn’t believe it was real.

“If they say it’s real, it must be real,” she said. “I’m going to touch it later to make sure.”

The chocolate bar’s national tour will continue until May. At the end of the tour, the bar will be served at a sweets festival in Chicago.