Updated Tuesday, March 3, 12:21 p.m
A Kew Gardens Hills man who was found dead in the basement of his home on Valentine’s Day was murdered following a dispute and a suspect is facing possible charges in his killing, authorities said.
Officers found 56-year-old Kevin Lopyan unconscious at about 8:40 a.m. on Feb. 14 at his 77th Avenue house, police said. He had trauma to his head and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The medical examiner’s office determined on Feb. 28 that Lopyan’s death was a homicide.
Rahmatullah Popal, 21, who Lopyan had hired for doing odd jobs around his home, according to published reports, was caught with the victim’s credit card and a blank check bearing Lopyan’s name the same day he was found dead, court documents said.
Popal had come to Lopyan’s place to collect $200 that he owed him, according to a criminal complaint. Lopyan then handed him a blank check and threw him out of his house.
But Popal then returned to the home, surprising Lopyan by entering through the basement, and he screamed out “Robber! Robber!” when he saw Popal.
That’s when the two started to fight, with Popal kicking Lopyan in the stomach and Lopyan then punching him in the face, court records said. Things turned deadly after Popal picked up a piece of a shed and used it to shove Lopyan away from him, causing him to hit his head on a door and fall to the floor.
Lopyan then allegedly had a seizure and Popal held him down with the piece of the shed until he stopped moving.
Popal was found that same day by police with Lopyan’s credit card and the blank check, and was charged with burglary, robbery and criminal possession of stolen property.
Upgraded charges against Popal could come at his next court appearance later this month, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.