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Binghamton student from LI pleads guilty in stabbing death, DA says

Michael M. Roque, 20, of Massapequa, pleaded guilty

Michael M. Roque, 20, of Massapequa, pleaded guilty Friday to the fatal stabbing of a fellow Binghamton University student in April. Credit: Broome County Sherriff

A former Binghamton University student from Massapequa faces 20 years in prison after pleading guilty Friday to second-degree murder in the stabbing death of another student in April. 

Michael Roque, 20, entered the plea in a Broome County courtroom as part of a deal with the county's district attorney's office. He is being held in jail until sentencing in Binghamton on Nov. 16. 

Roque fatally stabbed fellow student Joao Souza, 19, a freshman engineering major at Binghamton, on April 15, police said.

Broome County authorities said their goal was to keep Roque permanently behind bars.

"On behalf of the victim, his family, and our community, we plan to argue for 20 years-to-life at sentencing though no sentence will bring back Joao Souza," District Attorney Steve Cornwell said in a statement to Newsday on Saturday. 

Upstate authorities have not released details on Roque's motive for stabbing Souza. 

Roque is being represented by upstate Vestal attorney Dave Butler, who did not return phone calls seeking comment Saturday. 

Roque's older brother Julio Roque said in April that their family was stunned by the news because Michael is "the one who makes everyone happy." Julio Roque said his brother's high school acquaintances were equally shocked. 

“Everyone from high school is saying they can’t believe it, and saying, ‘Please, tell me it’s not Michael.’ ” Julio Roque said. 

Michael Roque appeared in court Sept. 6, when he offered a plea deal by the district attorney. Roque initially refused the offer, only to accept it late Friday. 

James Worhach, spokesman for the district attorney, said Roque stated in court that he panicked when he heard Thursday's plea deal so that's why he initially said no to the offer. 

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