A church youth leader - a pastor's son - is among the men charged in connection with the murder and robbery of Manurewa liquor store owner Navtej Singh.
The Herald on Sunday can also reveal Eti Filoa was given permission to miss a weekly prayer meeting so he could attend a 5-year-old's birthday party on the night Singh was shot.
Filoa is one of seven men charged over the shooting of Singh at the Riverton Liquor Store eight days ago.
Police alleged the 23-year-old was armed with a .22 rifle and robbed alcohol, prepaid phonecards and cash worth a total of about $4000.
Anitealea Chan Kee, 20, Tino Faamele Felise, 17, Myron Robert Felise, 18, and Jason Naseri, 19 each face charges of murdering Singh, armed robbery and aggravated robbery.
Mefiposeta Chan Kee, 24, is charged with being an accessory after the killing. Police allege he disposed of packaging from alcohol, taken from the shop, to help Kee avoid arrest. A 17-year-old with name suppression is charged with armed robbery.
Singh's grieving widow, Harjinder, was praying with her daughters Harkirat, 5, Navnoor, 3, and Harroop, six months, and relatives at the Gurdwara Sikh Temple in Takanini yesterday.
They were preparing to end a week of mourning with a ceremony at 3pm today.
Through an interpreter, Harjinder told the Herald on Sunday she was feeling sick and overcome with grief. Family spokesman Manpreet Singh said the family was coping "okay". "The whole community, in fact the whole of New Zealand, is supporting the family."
In the heart of Otara, Filoa's family were trying to understand how a "good boy" could be accused of being caught up in the incident.
"I feel sorry for him," said his aunty, who asked not to be named. "He is a really good boy."
Filoa recently quit his job at Toll Logistics, because of sickness. He is a youth leader at Fiao'o i Le Lagi Independent Church. His father is a reverend there but could not be reached for comment last night.
"Last Saturday he was invited to the birthday with some old mates from school," said the aunty. "I don't know what happened."
The mother of the 17-year-old with name suppression said her family had missed a church meeting after lending the family car to the youth.
Police allege the white Mitsubishi Challenger was a getaway vehicle.
Police called her after work on Thursday. She took her son and vehicle to the Otahuhu police station that night. "Last night my husband and I knelt by the bed crying and praying," she said.
She said her family were devastated for the Singhs but would not abandon their son.
All seven defendants have been remanded in custody until August 6 for a pre-depositions hearing.