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Ex-Long Island Restaurant Owner Arraigned For Murdering His Girlfriend In Her Penthouse

Authorities say that Marivel Estevez had been planning to end her relationship with boyfriend Mark Small and move to Florida when she was allegedly shot to death by him.

By Jill Sederstrom
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

A former New York restaurant owner has been arraigned on murder charges in the death of his girlfriend, who was found shot to death in July at her penthouse apartment.

Mark Small, 55, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the death of girlfriend Marivel Estevez, 39. Authorities say that he shot her twice and then fled the Mineola penthouse apartment where they had been living together, according to a statement from Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly.

Prosecutors said the couple had been at home together after she finished work on the evening of Thursday, July 28 and into the early morning hours of July 29. It is sometime during that period that police believe Small shot Estevez once in the head and again in the torso with a handgun before fleeing in her car with her dog — a Maltese she'd named Tuffy.

Mark Small

Estevez was found dead on her bed around 11:15 a.m. on July 30 after a concerned coworker called to request a welfare check when she failed to show up for work, according to prosecutors and a statement obtained by Oxygen.com from Nassau County police.

Small was arrested at a local hospital on Aug. 2, where he had been taken after a car accident. According to prior reporting by Oxygen.com, Small was involved in a crash on the Long Island Expressway near Estevez's home with Tuffy in the car and attempted to exit the vehicle after the accident. Tuffy, however, took the opportunity and jumped out.

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"Mark went to get the dog so it didn't get hit by a car,"  Police Det. Capt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said, according to WABC. "It didn't get hit by a car. Mark got hit by a car."

The dog has never been found, according to the Long Island Herald

Before her death, authorities said Estevez, who lived and worked in management at the Allure Mineola apartment complex, had voiced her desire to others to leave the relationship and the New York area.

Marivel Estevez had recently told friends and family members that she wanted to end her relationship with Mark Small and move to Florida,” Donnelly said in a statement. “The defendant, however, was unwilling to let her go and is accused of murdering Marivel in cold blood at her Mineola apartment. The murder of this young woman was a calculated and cowardly act, and my office will vigorously prosecute this case.”

Small had owned a Caribbean-themed restaurant in Rockville Centre known as the Grotto, but the establishment had closed just weeks before Estevez was killed, according to The Long Island Herald.

Small has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. If convicted, he could be facing up to life in prison.

Small’s next court appearance is scheduled for October 21, prosecutors said.