A Hempstead man was ordered held without bail Monday in the killing of his live-in girlfriend, whose neck was slashed with a razor blade during an argument in their apartment early Saturday morning, officials said.

Alan R. Espinoza, 25, used "a razor blade type of cutter" to kill Neyvin Espinal, 24, in the apartment they shared on Elk Street, Assistant District Attorney Everett Witherell said at the arraignment in First District Court in Hempstead.

Espinoza, who worked at a 99-cent store in Hempstead, pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and was ordered held without bail. While being escorted by detectives to court, Espinoza, who was arrested early Sunday, told reporters: "I'm so sorry."

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Espinal was discovered by her female roommate, who called 911, with a "severe neck wound" a little after 4 p.m. Saturday, police Homicide Squad Det. Sgt. James Skopek said. Espinal, who police suspect was killed 12 hours earlier, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The couple had been dating for a couple of months -- and had been living together for about four weeks, Skopek said. The argument "escalated" and Espinoza slashed Espinal in the "throat and neck," Skopek said. Espinoza doesn't have a criminal record and there are no previous domestic violence incidents on record between the pair, Skopek said. No weapon has been recovered.

Espinal, a native of Honduras who had been in the United States about 10 months, worked as a waitress at Miranda's River Cafe in Hempstead, said owner Rudis Miranda, who is raising money to send her body home for burial.

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Miranda said Espinal worked Friday night into early Saturday. He last saw her about 3:50 a.m. at the restaurant, when Espinoza came to pick her up.

"He hugged her from behind," Miranda said, adding that the couple "seemed happy."

Espinal's roommate, who also is a waitress at the restaurant, called about 12 hours later "screaming and crying. . . . 'She's dead. Somebody killed her,' " Miranda said.

Miranda said Espinal worked hard and sent money back to Honduras to her 7-year-old daughter and other family members. Espinal was "very excited" about her daughter's upcoming eighth birthday and had sent her a dress and other gifts.

"Customers are very sad," Miranda said. "They're crying. It's horrible. . . . She was very nice with the customers. Customers loved her. She was responsible. She never missed a day to work."