A Bay Shore man apologized Monday for stabbing his girlfriend 32 times two years ago, telling a Suffolk judge that an extravagant cocktail of narcotics drove him to do it.
Suffolk County Court Judge Stephen Braslow told the man, Charles Pray, 36, that he was probably right, but that was still no reason to kill Monica Lino, 36, and leave her dead in her Farmingville living room.
Braslow sentenced Pray to 17 1⁄2 years to life in prison. Pray pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and other crimes in June.
“I’m sorry for what I did,” Pray said in the Riverhead courtroom, as Lino’s family members listened. “I experimented with drugs I never used before and I lost control of myself. I swear I would give my life right now if it could bring her back.”
After Pray killed Lino on July 27, 2014, he took her car and crashed it in Nassau County, Assistant District Attorney Peter Timmons said. Then Pray stole another car, drove it to West Babylon, got out and passed out in the street, Timmons said.
Pray’s attorney, Steven Politi of Central Islip, said his client and Lino were using oxycodone, alcohol, clonazepam and other drugs when they got into an argument before dawn.
“Obviously, judge, this was an awful, awful event,” Politi said in court. “But not unexpected when you have two individuals out of their minds on narcotics.”
Politi said his client feels nothing but remorse for what he did.
Timmons, noting that Pray rejected an earlier plea offer of 19 years to life in prison, said his office now recommended the maximum of 25 years to life. The victim’s family declined to speak in court, but Timmons read a letter written by two of Lino’s sisters.
“We just want this nightmare to end, but it will never be over,” they wrote, adding that they had to clean their sister’s blood off her floor and walls. “Only animals kill like that.”
Braslow said he found the crime disturbing, but offered the lighter sentence to avoid a trial. Even if Lino was a hard drug user, Braslow said she didn’t deserve to die that way.
“This drug addiction . . . caused you to commit murder,” Braslow told Pray. “You were basically out of your mind on drugs. But that doesn’t excuse what you did. She got murdered for no reason. Killing somebody is a terrible, terrible, terrible thing.”
Braslow spoke at length on the damage opiates are doing to society and praised law enforcement for doing what it can.
“Thank God for our police and prosecutors,” Braslow said. “Be glad that they’re there for us.”