Former BU student gets 20 to life for murder

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A former Binghamton University student has been sentenced to 20 years to life for the murder of a fellow student. 

In September, 20 year-old Michael Roque plead guilty to the murder of 19 year-old Joao Souza back in April.

In court today, District Attorney Steve Cornwell revealed that Souza had been stabbed over 20 times saying the dorm room in which it occurred was a gruesome scene.     

During the sentencing, Roque began reading a ten-page prepared statement in which he claimed his lawyer did not provide satisfactory counsel and that he did not want to plead guilty.

Roque filed a motion to have his guilty plea withdrawn which was denied by Judge Kevin Dooley. 

Also in his statement, Roque claimed that he is innocent and that he chased the man who actually committed the crime but couldn’t get a good description of him.    

When handing down the sentence, Dooley noted Souza was dating Roque’s ex-girlfriend and that Roque had transferred to Binghamton to follow her.

Cornwell says it was clearly an emotionally driven crime. “He was going to a different college and then he really came here with the intent to show up and surprise her and say you know I’m here. It was truly a stalking incident and you just put the pieces together and we were quickly able to make that determination of who it was and why.”

When asked if he had anything to say on his client’s behalf, Roque’s attorney said he was not at liberty to say anything due to their strained relationship.

Judge Dooley continuously reminded Roque that this was a sentencing not a trial while he read his statement that detailed the events of the night’s murder.

Dooley eventually cut him off and took the written statement for the record.

Souza’s parents couldn’t make the trip from Brazil so a representative for the family spoke on their behalf.

She said that nothing will make up for the loss of his life and they hope Roque is never given the opportunity to forget what he’s done. 

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