A 21-year-old Riverside man arrested Wednesday for killing Mirian Yohana Garcia Mancilla of Aquebogue allegedly strangled the woman as he raped her, prosecutors charged in Town Justice Court Thursday.
“During the rape, he strangled her with his belt,” assistant district attorney Glenn Kurtzrock said of the suspect, Guillermo Alfonso Alvarado-Ajcuc.
Ms. Garcia’s body was discovered May 7 in a wooded area behind the Riverhead DMV on Route 58.
Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc pleaded not guilty Thursday to one count of second-degree murder before Town Justice Allen Smith.
Wearing a brown T-shirt with an image of a robot, a diminutive Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc — described as a Guatemalan immigrant and non-U.S. citizen — spoke with his head down and through a Spanish-speaking translator during the arraignment.
He said he’s lived in the U.S. for the past four years and currently lives with his father. He doesn’t have a Green Card, he said, and he didn’t know his street address. He lives on Pine Street in Riverside, according to court documents.
The criminal complaint states that at about 2 a.m. on May 6, Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc “removed [Ms. Garcia’s] pants” and “committed or attempted to commit” first-degree rape, criminal sexual act in the first degree and aggravated sexual abuse, as well as robbery, burglary, kidnapping, arson, and first or second degree escape.
It also states: “As the victim fought and resisted, the defendant removed his belt and wrapped it around her neck and strangled her” until she died.
Mr. Alvarado-Ajuc gave detectives a full confession, according to Mr. Kurtzrock.
He was held without bail and is due back in court next Tuesday, when his case will likely be transferred to Suffolk County Criminal Court.
“We will consider all possible charges when we present the case to the grand jury,” Mr. Kurtzrock said outside the courtroom.
Mr. Alvarado-Ajuc’s attorney, Eileen Powers of Riverhead did not request bail for her client because, she said, she was aware Justice Court could not grant bail for a second-degree murder charge.
A woman who answered the door at Mr. Alvarado-Ajuc’s home Thursday indicated to a reporter that she did not speak English and was unable to comment.
Ms. Garcia, 29, was last seen at the Sabor Latino bar and restaurant, which is in the same Peconic Plaza shopping center as the DMV, Suffolk police detectives had said.
Originally of Guatemala, Ms. Garcia previously lived on Bell Avenue in Flanders, the address originally provided by police because the ID found on her body had not been updated.
Eswin Adolfo Velasquez, a close friend of the victim’s family, said Thursday that he saw Mr. Alvarado-Ajcuc’s mug shot online but did not recognize the man.
He did not believe the suspect and Ms. Garcia were friends.
“I’m happy the police is working fast,” Mr. Velasquez said, adding that the devastated family would be pleased to learn there was an arrest.
A funeral for Ms. Garcia was held Saturday at the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Riverhead.
“She was a wonderful person and a lot of people loved her,” Ms. Garcia’s sister, Zully Garcia Mancilla said at the services.
Ms. Garcia, who worked cleaning and detailing boats at Larry’s Lighthouse Marina in Aquebogue, was a black belt in karate, a DJ who spun records for local parties and was an avid soccer player. She also played goalie for a women’s team on the North Fork.
The team, Union Latina, held a moment of silence at its game Sunday in Mattituck, where players also wore black ribbons in remembrance of Yohana, as she was known.