Shortly after a Suffolk homicide detective asked a Riverhead man if he believed in God, he wiped tears from his face with his T-shirt and began to explain how he choked the life out of a woman he had just met in a bar, as seen on a videotape played for jurors Wednesday in Suffolk County Court.
The video of Guillermo Alvarado Ajcuc's interrogation was the first time jurors had seen such a thing in Suffolk. Alvarado, 23, is charged with second-degree murder in the rape and strangling of Mirian Yohanna Garcia Mansilla, 29, of Flanders, early on May 6, 2012.
Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock played the subtitled video of Alvarado talking in Spanish with Det. Tulio Serrata. Det. Thomas Walsh also asked questions, translated by Serrata. Initially, Alvarado denied acting aggressively toward Garcia.
"We know you feel bad," Walsh told him. "You believe in God?"
"Of course," Alvarado replied, in a soft and glum voice.
"He'll forgive you if you tell the truth," Walsh said, and Alvarado began to cry.
But he said Garcia was the aggressor after they left El Sabor Latino in Riverhead, and that she died from choking on her own vomit.
"That's false," Serrata told him. "You know that's not how she died. Tell the truth, for her family."
Then Alvarado said he used his belt to kill her. "It's what I had on," he said. "I tied her neck. I didn't realize it. I was drunk."
Alvarado then resisted explaining why Garcia's pants and underwear were off. But when the detectives pressed him to keep telling the truth, he said he forced himself on her and then killed her when she fought back.
Defense attorney Eileen Powers will cross-examine Serrata about the interrogation Thursday. In her opening statement, she said his admission to police came after detectives badgered him into going along with their version of events.
The video shows the detectives refused to accept the version of events Alvarado initially offered, but he volunteered certain key details, including how Garcia was killed. Serrata said he was surprised that Alvarado said the belt he was wearing was the murder weapon. Serrata took the belt as evidence.
Near the end of the video, Alvarado asked if he could talk to his father. Serrata dialed the number for him, and Alvarado spoke briefly through tears.
Serrata asked him if he wanted to talk some more with his father or anyone else, but Alvarado declined.