A 23-year-old Riverhead man has been convicted in the rape and murder of an Aquebogue woman near the Riverhead DMV parking lot in 2012.
After deliberating over the course of three days, a Suffolk County jury Friday found Guillermo Alvarado-Ajcuc, an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant, guilty of two counts of murder in the May 6 death of Mirian Yohana Garcia Mansilla.
Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc — dressed in a green prison shirt and pants with his long black hair slicked back — stood motionless as the verdict was read. Seated a few feet away in the courtroom gallery, Ms. Garcia Mansilla’s sister, Zully, held her face in her hands and cried.
She held hands with her mother, Marta, as the jury was lead out of the courtroom.
“These two years for me have been like a nightmare,” Marta Mansilla said. “I am grateful for everyone who helped with this case … I thank God. I know she’s in a better place right now.”
A focal point of the case was the suspect’s confession, video recorded during an interview with homicide detectives and played for the jury. The case was the first time since homicide detectives began videotaping their interrogations in 2010 that an interrogation video had been shown to a Suffolk County jury.
“It’s been over two years and this verdict will go a long way towards giving [the family] closure,” said assistant district attorney Glenn Kurtzrock.
During its deliberations, the jury had asked several times for testimony, photos of the crime scene, and reports of DNA evidence placing Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc at the crime scene. Some jurors said after the case that they struggled with a lack of forensic evidence — like fingerprints or DNA — on Ms. Garcia Mansilla’s body.
The video was the key, they said.
“Even after the confession I hadn’t made up my mind,” one juror said. “If you didn’t have the confession, you’d have no case.”
Prosecutors had said that Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc was at the Sabor Latino bar on Old Country Road the night of May 5, the same bar where the victim was watching a boxing match.
With Ms. Garcia Mancilla highly intoxicated, Mr. Alvardo-Ajcuc led her away from the bar towards a wooded area in the corner of the parking lot. There, prosecutors said, he attempted to rape her and strangled her with his belt when she resisted.
He was later caught by police and charged with two counts of murder, one for intentially killing Ms. Garcia Mancilla and one for killing her while committing felony rape.
Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc now faces up to life in prison. As an undocumented immigrant, he will be deported should he ever complete his term. District Attorney Thomas Spota said in a statement that he will recommend the maximum imprisonment at Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc’s sentencing next month.
Defense attorney Eileen Powers said her client had told her he was “disappointed but not surprised” by the verdict. In her closing argument Wednesday, she had implied that Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc didn’t know what he was saying when he admitted to killing Ms. Garcia Mancilla.
She had said her client spoke a different language — kaqchikel— than the Spanish that was used in the interview, and implied that the prosecution’s witnesses tailored their testimony to fit their theory of the killing. Ms. Powers said after the verdict that she respected the jury’s decision.
For Ms. Garcia Mancilla’s family, some of whom testified in the case and stayed for several days of the trial, the guilty verdict was justice served.
“I feel happy because I know he’s going to pay for what he did to my sister,” said Zully Garcia Mansilla through a translator after the verdict. “And I know she’s happy knowing that he’s going to pay for everything he did … I hope the sentence will be forever.”
“Hopefully God will forgive him,” Marta Mansilla said. She can’t.
Editor’s note: Previous police and court documents had spelled the victim Mirian Yohanna Garcia Mansilla’s name ‘Mancilla.’ However, Ms. Mansilla’s sister told a reporter that the last name is spelled with an ‘s.’