Two Plattsburgh men have pled not guilty to murder charges lodged against them for the stabbing death of Keeseville resident Kenneth Darrah earlier this week.
Michael J. Rougeau, 48, and Michael A. Nastasia, 30, were charged with second-degree murder on Tuesday for allegedly stabbing Darrah, 37, and throwing him off the AuSable Chasm Bridge in the town of Chesterfield, according to New York State Police.
State Police said they found Darrah on the north bank of the AuSable River underneath the chasm bridge in the early hours of Monday morning. Police initially reported the case as a “suspicious” death. Police now believe Darrah was stabbed repeatedly in a “physical altercation” with Rougeau and Nastasia before he was thrown off the bridge.
An autopsy on Tuesday determined that Darrah died of blunt force trauma and multiple stab wounds, according to State Police. Dr. Michael Sikirica, who conducted the autopsy at Glens Falls Hospital, ruled Darrah’s death a homicide.
Rougeau and Nastasia were taken into custody for questioning at the Plattsburgh City Police Department on Tuesday before being charged with second-degree murder. Rougeau and Nastasia pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were arraigned in the town of Chesterfield Court on Wednesday, according to an employee of the Chesterfield town court, who said Rougeau and Nastasia’s attorneys entered the “not guilty” pleas on the defendants’ behalf. Rougeau and Nastasia were transported to Essex County Jail without bail, where they remained in custody as of press time Thursday.
Kristy Sprague, the Essex County district attorney, said in an email Thursday that the current murder charges against Rougeau and Nastasia will next be presented to a grand jury.
“We will be having ongoing discussions with their attorneys,” she wrote. “This is very early in the process.”
This is an ongoing investigation by the New York State Police and the Essex County District Attorney’s Office. State Police are asking for anyone with information related to this case to contact State Police at 518-873-2777. Sprague said her office and/or State Police would issue a press release as soon as there are updates in the case.
State Police were assisted by forest rangers, Keeseville Fire and Rescue, and the Essex County coroner when responding to Darrah’s death at the chasm. The Plattsburgh City Police Department, Clinton County Sheriff’s Department, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Border Patrol assisted State Police in arresting Rougeau and Nastasia on Tuesday.
Both Rougeau and Nastasia were incarcerated with felony charges in the past. Rougeau is a registered sex offender in New York state. He was convicted of second-degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor, in December 2008 for making sexual contact with a 2-year-old female on more than one occasion, according to the state sex offender registry. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail. A year later, according to a spokesperson from the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Rougeau was convicted of failing to register as a sex offender, a felony, and sentenced to another year and six months to three years in jail. He was released in August 2012.
The DOCCS spokesperson said Nastasia was convicted of third-degree burglary and third-degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon, both felonies, in June 2018. Nastasia was sentenced to one year and six months to three years in jail. He was released to community supervision in June 2019 and discharged from parole supervision in June 2020.