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Man sentenced to 19 years in prison for fatal stabbing over misplaced cellphone

Roy Christmas leaves Nassau police headquarters in Mineola

Roy Christmas leaves Nassau police headquarters in Mineola in 2018. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Nassau judge on Wednesday sentenced a Hempstead man to 19 years in prison for fatally stabbing his sister's boyfriend after what prosecutors said was a 2018 fight about a misplaced cellphone.

Roy Christmas, 40, pleaded guilty in September to first-degree manslaughter in a plea deal that followed his indictment on murder and weapon charges.

Authorities said Christmas stabbed William Pinckney multiple times behind a house on Warner Avenue in Hempstead in the early morning of May 1, 2018. The 57-year-old Freeport man identified Christmas as his assailant in a "dying declaration" he made as first responders tried to save his life, Nassau prosecutors said Wednesday.

Police said previously that Pinckney was pronounced dead at Nassau University Medical Center less than an hour after the stabbing.

Prosecutors said the two men were at a party at the house, along with Christmas' sister, before an argument started when Christmas couldn't find his cellphone as he was trying to leave.

They said Christmas punched his sister in the face before Pinckney intervened and began to fight with Christmas. At one point in the fight, Pinckney threw a chair at Christmas and Christmas stabbed him several times before fleeing, prosecutors said.

"He regrets any pain and suffering that has resulted through his actions in this case," Christmas' attorney, William Shanahan, told Nassau Supervising Judge Teresa Corrigan during Wednesday's sentencing.

The Mineola defense attorney said in an interview after court that Christmas went to the location, a rooming house, to collect $80 his sister owed him.

But the siblings got into an argument and Pinckney intervened, hitting Christmas with a metal chair before a fistfight ensued between the men and Christmas stabbed Pinckney, according to the defense lawyer.

Shanahan said one of the eight stab wounds his client inflicted severed an artery in one of Pinckney's arms.

"It was an unfortunate injury. Had he not hit that artery, William Pinckney would have gotten up and would have walked away from the scene," the attorney added.

Police released Christmas' name and photo to the public on the day after the deadly stabbing, identifying him as a suspect and asking for information on his whereabouts. They arrested him less than two weeks later.

Nassau acting District Attorney Joyce Smith said in a statement Wednesday that Pinckney was "a loving father" who died after coming to his girlfriend's aid after her brother punched her.

The county's top prosecutor added that she hoped Christmas' sentence would help the victim's family as they grieved his "truly senseless killing."

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