Prosecutors say a Long Island man stabbed his girlfriend more than 20 times during a fight at her home.
Charles Pray of Bay Shore was being held without bail Tuesday. He is charged with second-degree murder.
Police say Monica Lino was found dead Sunday in her home in Farmingville.
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The 34-year-old Pray, who worked as a cook and had a minor criminal record, gave a videotaped confession to detectives. But defense attorney Steven Politi told reporters his client had been attacked by Lino, and says Pray suffered stab wounds to his hand, arms and upper torso.
Lino's neighbors didn't buy it. They say the 36-year-old mother of two was recovering from a motorcycle crash that left her incapacitated for days.
"She was on crutches, she was all messed up," said Carolyn Hughes, a tenant of Lino. "She couldn't even defend herself if she wanted to."
Hughes said Pray had been seeing Lino for about two months.
Lino's 9- and 12-year-old children were not at home; they have been spending the summer with family in Portugal, relatives said.
A Volkswagen Jetta registered to Lino was found by Suffolk County homicide detectives in Merrick, more than 35 miles from her home.
Her aunt wept outside court Tuesday after hearing how her niece died.
"I'm very upset. They killed my niece," she said.
-- Greg Cergol contributed to this report.