The family of a Baldwin homicide victim came face-to-face with their loved one’s accused killer in court Tuesday after authorities recently nabbed the man in Colorado years after the 2010 slaying.
Owen Ellis, 43, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Donald Thomas, 50, of Rosedale.
Prosecutors said Thomas died in an August 2010 home invasion shooting that followed a robbery at the same residence days earlier.
Several of Thomas’ relatives were in Nassau County Court for Ellis’ arraignment, after keeping in close contact with police for years while waiting for an arrest.
“He’s a complete coward,” Thomas’ stepdaughter, Nicola Myrie, 37, of New Jersey, said of Ellis. “He changed our whole life. He didn’t have to kill him. He didn’t even know him.”
Authorities have said on Aug. 13, 2010, Ellis went into a house on Washington Place in Baldwin with a gun and stole property.
Then on Aug. 24, 2010, several masked gunmen went into the same house, before Ellis fatally shot Thomas, according to prosecutors, who said the probe remains ongoing.
Another man was shot but survived the encounter, according to authorities.
Police said at the time of the shooting two or three assailants had confronted a man who was going into the house, forcing him inside, and that man and a woman who was the girlfriend of the surviving gunshot victim weren’t hurt in the shooting.
Thomas’ family, who said he’d been visiting a female friend, described him as a gentle and loving father of four born on the island of Jamaica.
Law enforcement officials arrested Ellis on Feb. 11 by a home improvement store in Pueblo, Colorado, before extraditing him to New York. He also faces attempted murder, robbery, burglary, assault and weapon charges.
“My client looks forward to his day in court and being vindicated,” defense attorney Christopher Devane of Mineola said after a judge remanded Ellis to jail.