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Charles Pray stabbed Monica Lino more than 20 times, prosecutor says

Charles Pray, 34, of Bay Shore, is led

Charles Pray, 34, of Bay Shore, is led out of the Sixth Precinct Tuesday morning, July 29, 2014, for arraignment in First District Court in Central Islip. Pray is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Monica Lino, 36, of Farmingville, authorities said. Credit: James Carbone

A Bay Shore man stabbed his girlfriend more than 20 times during a confrontation at her Farmingville home Sunday before police found him passed out on a street -- and high on pills -- beside a car he'd stolen, prosecutors and court records say.

Charles Pray, 34, was ordered held without bail at his arraignment Tuesday after Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Raphael Pearl said he stabbed Monica Lino, 36, a mother of two, around 4:35 a.m. and left her for dead. Pray gave a full videotaped confession to detectives, Pearl said.

Pray told police he got the knife he used to kill Lino from a butcher block in the kitchen, according to court records. After the killing, he drove off in a stolen car and later fled the scene of an accident in Nassau County, prosecutors said.

He later stole a second vehicle, a white 2008 Dodge Nitro, which he drove in the wrong direction in West Babylon, police said. Officers and a witness said they found him collapsed in the street beside the Nitro around 12:35 a.m. Monday, where the car was facing south in a northbound lane of Belmont Avenue.

Pray, a former member of the U.S. Navy who served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation, did not enter a plea to the top charge of second-degree murder. He faces life in prison if convicted.

"He killed a beautiful, caring mother so brutally, there can't be any forgiveness for him," Jennifer Saldano, Lino's friend and neighbor, said after the arraignment. "To stab her that many times. . . . She must have suffered so deeply. It's beyond appalling."

During Pray's arraignment, his attorney, Steven Politi of Central Islip, called into question the validity of his client's confession and said there is "a lot more to this case" than prosecutors claimed.

"I believe that my client was attacked by the decedent [Lino] prior to anything occurring," Politi said outside court, claiming Lino caused stab wounds to Pray's hands, arms and torso.

A Volkswagen Jetta registered to Lino was found by Suffolk County homicide detectives in Merrick, more than 35 miles from her home. It was unclear whether Pray had stolen the vehicle.

Lino's body was discovered just after 3 p.m. Sunday by her nephew. Her two children were out of town at the time.

Suffolk court records show Pray has pleaded guilty in the past to criminal trespass, criminal contempt and petty larceny, all misdemeanors.

Pray's stepbrother, Shane Boucher of Bay Shore, said Pray has a preteen daughter whom he sees every weekend.

Boucher said Pray has been in and out of drug rehab.

He was arrested and charged in Lino's death after a West Babylon man Michael Senk, 23, spotted him behind the wheel of the stolen Nitro pointed south on Belmont Avenue in West Babylon, according to court records.

"I could tell he was intoxicated, and I knew I had to get him off the road before someone got hurt," Senk, a volunteer firefighter in North Babylon, said.

Senk said he drove the car onto a side street and called police. Pray then collapsed beside the Dodge, Senk said.

"When they ran his name, they saw he was a suspect in the murder of Monica Lino," said Senk. "When they told me that, my jaw dropped."

Police said they found more than 30 clonazepam and cyclobenzaprine muscle relaxant pills on Pray. He also told them he'd taken "oxy" and muscle relaxers earlier, records show.

"I'm just glad he can't hurt anyone else," Senk said.

With Bart Jones and Portia Crowe

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