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Ex-fugitive sentenced to 19 years to life in ’99 Hicksville wedding killing

Balkumar Singh, escorted from Nassau police headquarters in

Balkumar Singh, escorted from Nassau police headquarters in August 2015, was sentenced Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, to 19 years in prison in the 1999 fatal shooting of a teenage wedding guest in Hicksville. Credit: Howard Schnapp

An international fugitive, who spent 16 years on the run after fatally shooting a teenage wedding guest at a 1999 Hicksville wedding, was sentenced Monday to 19 years to life in prison for the killing.

Balkumar Singh, handcuffed and wearing an orange jailhouse jumpsuit, said nothing before the sentence was imposed by Judge Christopher Quinn in Nassau County Court in Mineola.

The father and brother of victim Abzal Khan, whom Singh shot to death after a dance floor dispute at the wedding, urged the judge to sentence Singh to life in prison and spoke about the loss of a loved one.

“Because of this defendant, the brother who was always there for me isn’t there any more,” Ramzan Khan, 30, of Kew Gardens, Queens, told the judge. His older brother was 19 at the time of the shooting on June 13, 1999. The victim’s father, Inshanallie Khan, 64, urged the judge to sentence Singh to “the maximum” prison sentence.

“There’s nothing I can say to you that can replace your brother and your son,” Quinn said as he imposed the sentence, reached in a plea deal last month.

Singh, who had several aliases at the time of the shooting, is believed to be 38.

Prosecutors said he left the catering hall after the dance-floor altercation and waited outside. When Abzal Khan walked out, Singh shot him at least seven times with a 9 mm handgun as some 20 people stood nearby, prosecutors said.

“We knew who our suspect was. It was just a matter of time to apprehend him,” Singas said at the time of Singh’s arrest.

His Monday sentencing followed a lengthy international manhunt that ended in March 2015 with his apprehension in Trinidad after authorities acted on a tip that he was hiding out in the Caribbean country, prosecutors said.

Singh, who was featured in a 2009 episode of the TV show “America’s Most Wanted,” fled the United States within days of the shooting.

As a fugitive, he traveled to Canada and Guyana before his arrest in Trinidad, prosecutors said.

U.S. marshals then arranged for Singh’s August 2015 extradition to the United States with help from Nassau police detectives. Nearly 15 months later, he pleaded guilty on Nov. 2 to second-degree murder and assault.

“Balkumar Singh savagely murdered an innocent young man in front of scores of wedding guests and immediately fled the country,” Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement Monday. “This defendant stayed one step ahead of the law for 16 years, but thanks to our law enforcement partners from around the globe we were able to bring him to justice.”

Inshanallie Khan said after Singh’s November guilty plea that the family felt justice had been served and he was pleased the fugitive “admitted that he did the act.”

The victim’s father added at last month’s hearing that, while he wished his son’s killer would go to prison for life, he felt at ease after the guilty plea and had kept “faith in the Lord” that justice would come. He added that his son had graduated from Richmond Hill High School and was preparing to start college when he was killed.

Outside court Monday, Khan described his son’s dream of becoming “a medical doctor, but this guy cut his life short.”

Defense attorney Andrew Monteleone of Mineola said his client took responsibility for his actions and pleaded guilty because he did not want the Khan family to endure “the heartbreak” of a trial.

An earlier version of this story contained incorrect dates for Balkumar Singh’s arrest in Trinidad and his extradition to the United States.

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