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Jose Rodriguez-Cartagena, accused of slaying of former live-in girlfriend, tells reporters he felt threatened at the time of the crime

Jose Cartagena, 54, is escorted out of Nassau

Jose Cartagena, 54, is escorted out of Nassau police headquarters in Mineola on Monday, April 20, 2015. Cartagena is charged with second-degree murder after he repeatedly stabbed Yanira Estella Canjura Martinez, 32, in Glen Cove on March 26, police said. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Glen Cove man who authorities say fatally stabbed his girlfriend "multiple times" in a parking lot after she broke up with him told reporters Monday that, at the time, he felt threatened and feared for his life.

Jose Luis Rodriguez-Cartagena, 54, spoke in Spanish to reporters as he was led by a pair of Nassau police homicide detectives to a waiting car and taken to First District Court in Hempstead, where he pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder at his arraignment.

Rodriguez-Cartagena, a Salvadoran national, was arrested April 3 by Nassau police and federal authorities in California and, prosecutors said, intended to return to his native El Salvador. Authorities said he fled after the March 26 murder of Yanira Estella Canjura Martinez, 32, who was found fatally stabbed in a parking lot on Pearsall Avenue.

Assistant District Attorney Martin Meaney asked for Rodriguez-Cartagena to be remanded to jail, and Judge Darlene Harris ordered him held without bail. Rodriguez-Cartagena, in a light gray sweatsuit, did not speak in court.

A spokesman for the district attorney's office declined to comment on remarks made by Rodriguez-Cartagena, who told reporters who were questioning him that at the time of the crime he felt he was going to be killed. He didn't elaborate on why he felt threatened.

Meaney said the "heinous" crime was caught on video and there were several witnesses. The victim, Meaney said, was stabbed "multiple times."

"Any bail set would be too low," Meaney said.

Rodriguez-Cartagena's Legal Aid attorney said he has been in the United States for 19 years, has three children here, and worked as a landscaper for the past 16 years.

Rodriguez-Cartagena's sister and other supporters appeared in court but declined to comment.

Martinez was on her way to pick up her daughter, 5, when she was stabbed -- only months after she left her native El Salvador and moved in with Rodriguez-Cartagena, along with her daughter, police said.

Police said she broke up with Rodriguez-Cartagena about a week before she was killed, ending a three-month relationship that had started on social media.

Investigators said Rodriguez-Cartagena took a van to California and was working on a farm picking grape leaves when he was arrested.

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