The man charged in a 1999 Hicksville homicide apologized Monday morning as he walked into court to face a Nassau County judge after 16 years on the lam.
"I'm sorry for the pain I caused the family," said a handcuffed Balkumar Singh, 37, who was extradited last week from Trinidad. Singh, after years on the run in Guyana, Canada and Trinidad, was arraigned Monday morning on two counts of second-degree murder, first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, second- and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with physical evidence.
Nassau County Judge Alan Honorof entered a plea of not guilty on Singh's behalf and ordered him held without bail. Singh said he did not have an attorney.
Singh, armed with a 9 mm handgun in his waistband, attended a wedding at the Masonic Temple in Hicksville the night of June 13, 1999, and got into an argument on the dance floor, officials said.
Outside the hall, he shot Abzal Khan, 19, of Kew Gardens, Queens, a wedding guest, authorities said. Another man, 22, was shot in the leg, but survived.
"The defendant . . . waited for the victim as he exited the hall," acting District Attorney Madeline Singas said at a news briefing after Singh's arraignment. "And once he exited, he brutally and coldbloodedly murdered him, shooting him at least seven times. The defendant, who had multiple aliases, immediately fled the country. He stayed one step ahead of the law for 16 years."
Singas said authorities "absolutely" zeroed in on him as a prime suspect right after the killing.
But, Singas said, Singh initially fled to Guyana, was homeless for much of his time on the lam and used several aliases to evade authorities over the years, which stymied the investigation. But a recent tip from Trinidadian authorities led to his capture in March, when the extradition process began.
"We had been close a number of times, but him using his aliases, he was able to evade our reach, but eventually the long arm of the law caught up with him," Singas said. "This was a crime that was committed in front of at least 20 other witnesses. It was a wedding, there was lots of other people attending, so we knew who he wanted. We knew who our suspect was. It was just a matter of time to apprehend him."
Singh, who also went by the name Tevin Persaud, was featured in a 2009 episode of the "America's Most Wanted" television show.
Nassau Homicide Det. Gonzalo Londono, who picked Singh up in Trinidad, said of his demeanor: "He was actually relieved; he was happy to be back in America."
Khan's father said his son was attending a neighbor's wedding and didn't know his alleged killer, whose apology he said he would not accept.
"That doesn't mean nothing to me," said Inshanallie Khan, 62. "My heart feels so pleased that they have caught this culprit and [will] bring him to justice," he said. "The judge will deal with him and send him down for a lifetime in the prison for the act he has committed to my son. He was . . . running for 16 years from country to country. . . . Thank the Lord they caught him."
"I'm very sad," said Khan's mother, Sharifan Khan, who shed tears as she spoke to reporters on her way into the courthouse. "I'm very, very, very sad. I can't explain. My son was a very pious child."
Shamed Khan, 27, one of the victim's brothers, said: "I hope justice is being served, and I'm very happy the killer is off the street."
He described his brother as "very family-oriented."
"It's changed my family," he said. "My family has never been the same."