The family of a Flanders woman expressed satisfaction and relief Friday after a Riverhead man was convicted of second-degree murder for strangling her when she fought back during a rape.
Guillermo Alvarado Ajcuc, 23, was found guilty of killing Mirian Yohanna Garcia Mansilla, 29, two years ago in Riverhead after he escorted her from a bar because she was drunk.
The jury reached its verdict after deliberating about 11 hours over three days.
"I feel sad, and at the same time I feel happy he was found guilty," Garcia's mother, Marta Mansilla, said in Spanish. A victim's advocate translated for her. "This two years for me has been a nightmare."
Garcia's sister, Miriam, cried briefly in court when she heard the verdict.
"I know he's going to pay for what he did to my sister," she said afterward. "I know now that she's happy. I hope the sentence will be forever."
Suffolk County Court Judge John Toomey Jr. will sentence Alvarado on July 9. He faces a maximum of 25 years to life in prison.
Alvarado did not react to the verdict as he stood in the green jail uniform he wore for much of the trial.
"My client is disappointed but not surprised," defense attorney Eileen Powers said later.
Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock said the jury "clearly made the right decision. I'm glad the family will get some closure."
This was the first trial in Suffolk County in which jurors saw a videotaped interrogation. In the video, Alvarado quickly admitted what he had done and how he did it, as detectives encouraged him to tell the truth.
"Obviously, the videotaped interview was extremely important," Kurtzrock said. It showed that Alvarado knew details of the crime that only the killer could know, and it showed that detectives were compassionate even as he admitted pulling his belt tight around Garcia's neck.
In her closing argument, Powers told jurors that there wasn't much to the prosecution's case beyond that confession.
Jurors said they spent much of their deliberations focusing on evidence that corroborated it. For some, that was difficult. Despite the rape, Alvarado left no DNA evidence on Garcia's body.
"It made us step out of the box and look at the big picture," one juror said.
Alvarado encountered Garcia, like him a Guatemalan immigrant, at the Riverhead bar El Sabor Latino.
When she was thrown out because she was drunk, Alvarado brought her behind the building, which also houses the Department of Motor Vehicles.
In bushes off the parking lot, he admitted pulling off her pants, raping her and killing her when she fought back, authorities said.