Shortly after family members found Jagat Balram, a bus mechanic, motionless in front of their Jamaica Avenue residence, police arrested 18-year-old Antonio Roque, who lives just a few blocks from Bagram's home. Roque, a Mexican immigrant not believed to be a U.S. citizen, admitted to police that he beat, kicked and stomped Bagram before the hardworking father collapsed and died of a heart attack, sources said. Roque apparently told police that Bagram had attacked him and that he had been acting in self-defense, a source said. But witnesses interviewed by police said Roque was behaving as if he were drunk. Law enforcement sources described the attack as a "random" act of violence. There were no signs of an attempted robbery, police said."The defendant is alleged to have punched, kicked and stomped the victim, causing his death, in a brutal and vicious attack that was completely unprovoked," Brown said in a statement. "The victim was a hardworking family man who was returning home from work. The crime was violent, mindless and lethal and the charges will be vigorously prosecuted."Roque was arraigned Wednesday on charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter before Queens Criminal Court Judge William Harrington, who ordered him held without a bail and set a return date of March 16, Brown said. First-degree manslaughter is a felony that carries a sentence of up to 25 years in jail.Bagram was attacked shortly before 1 a.m. Tuesday as he walked west on Jamaica Avenue toward his house at 119-20 Jamaica Ave., police said. After the attack, Bagram, a married Guyanese immigrant with at least one son, was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center with severe head trauma and was pronounced dead at 1:35 a.m., police said.A spokeswoman for the city medical examiner said Bagram died of a heart attack that was caused by the beating. "That's why it was ruled a homicide," she said.Roque, of 114-09 Jamaica Ave., was arrested a short time after Bagram was beaten as police canvassed the area. When he was transferred from the 102nd Precinct in Richmond Hill to a Kew Gardens holding cell, where he was awaiting arraignment, Roque told reporters he felt no remorse.Calls to Bagram's home went unanswered. But news reports indicated that his family planned to send his body back to his native Guyana for burial.Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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