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Former Brighton Beach man charged with murder for 2009 killing of local store owner

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Prosecutors charged a foreign national and former Brighton Beach resident with second-degree murder for allegedly beating a neighborhood shopkeeper to death in a 2009 robbery, and then fleeing to Australia, the district attorney announced.

The defendant, a citizen of Turkmenistan, faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top count, and his long-awaited prosecution brings some closure to Vladislav Tolstykh and his family a decade after the horrific crime occurred, according to Eric Gonzalez.

“For nearly 10 years, the family and friends of Vladislav Tolstykh have waited for this defendant to be prosecuted for a truly ruthless attack. I commend the New York City Police Department and Australian law enforcement for working together to bring this defendant back to Brooklyn to face justice,” he said following the suspect’s Feb. 4 arraignment in Kings County Supreme Court.

The defendant and another man allegedly ambushed Tolstykh inside a parking garage on Brighton 11th Street at Brighton Beach Avenue — near a supermarket the victim co-owned and managed — on March 14, 2009, and beat the 34-year-old merchant to death before running off with a pouch containing $32,000 in cash, paychecks, and luxury watches, according to
prosecutors.

Surveillance cameras captured the defendant and his partner-in-crime concealing their faces with sweatshirts and ski masks before the victim arrived, and also showed the duo running from the garage carrying the pouch, authorities said.

Investigators later recovered the ski masks and sweatshirts, which the suspects discarded as they fled the scene, and found traces of DNA belonging to both of them and the victim.

The attack occurred during an uncharacte­ristically violent few months in nearby Coney Island, with six murders in as many weeks that left Southern Brooklyn communities reeling, this newspaper reported at the time.

The two men fled to their native Turkmenistan a few days after the incident, before the now-captured suspect traveled to Australia where he sought asylum and failed to mention his alleged criminal past, according to prosecutors.

The second suspect is still on the lam, said a law-enforcement source, who requested anonymity due to authorities’ ongoing search for him.

In April 2013, Police Department detectives worked with their Australian counterparts to get a DNA sample from the defendant, which the Aussie authorities collected from an energy-drink can the suspect trashed. The DNA they found matched that on the clothing cops recovered from the Brighton Beach crime scene, according to prosecutors.

A local grand jury indicted the man months later, in October 2013, and Australian authorities detained him in 2014, while he awaited extradition to the United States.

In December 2018, the foreign officials surrendered the defendant to the U.S., and he arrived in New York City on Feb. 1.

Justice Vincent Del Giudice ordered the defendant be held without bail, and he will return to court on March 29, according to authorities.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@schnepsmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Updated 6:18 pm, February 13, 2019
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