It was well after midnight two years ago in a Riverhead bar when a security guard saw a woman struggling to remain on her feet, he testified Friday at the trial of the man charged with strangling her.
"She seemed to be heavily intoxicated," said Glenn Chery, so he escorted her outside. As he was offering to call a taxi for her, Chery said a man "cut into our conversation. She said she knew him. She said, 'I'm going with him.' "
Suffolk prosecutors say the woman, Mirian Yohanna Garcia Mansilla, 29, of Flanders, ended up raped and killed by the man, Guillermo Alvarado Ajcuc, 23, of Riverhead. He is on trial, charged with second-degree murder, before Suffolk County Court Judge John Toomey Jr.
During questioning by Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock, Chery said the man did not seem intoxicated and he didn't recall seeing them together in El Sabor Latino during the night.
In her opening statement Thursday, defense attorney Eileen Powers said her client was as drunk as the victim after they spent the night buying each other drinks.
"When they left, I thought they were a couple," Chery said during questioning by Powers. On a surveillance video shown to the jury, the man is seen holding the woman's arm as she walks unsteadily away into the parking lot.
Still, Chery said whenever he had seen the woman that night, she had been by herself, standing at the bar. By the end of the night, she was holding on to it so she wouldn't fall down, Chery said.
Later Friday, jurors saw photographs of how Garcia's night and life ended, a few steps into the woods at the edge of that parking lot. Crime scene photos showed her naked from the waist down, with her underwear bunched around one ankle. Her shorts were on the ground near her head.
On either side of the front of her neck were two straight, deep purple bruises and scrapes. Kurtzrock said Alvarado strangled Garcia with his belt.
Powers objected to the jury seeing some of the crime scene photographs, arguing they were repetitive and didn't have much evidentiary value.
"We know she's dead," Powers said, saying some of the more gruesome photos were intended to inflame the jury.
Kurtzrock argued that the photos corroborate other testimony, including the confession Alvarado eventually gave. Toomey excluded seven of the 16 photos of the body that Kurtzrock sought to show.