The 21-year-old man accused of killing 18-year-old Maggie Rosales in Huntington Station two weeks ago pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder during an emotionally charged court appearance Thursday.
Adam Saalfield wad held without bail at his arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip. His attorney asked the judge to set bond at $500,000. Prosecutors said Rosales died after suffering two knife wounds to her neck while walking in her hometown on Oct. 12.
“I want to thank the community, the crime squad, the police, all the people involved,” the victim’s father Cesar Rosales told reporters after the hearing. “It’s a sad moment, but thank God they got this animal. I want my daughter’s life back.”
The arraignment was briefly interrupted by one of Rosales’ family members who pointed her finger in Saalfield’s direction and yelled, “he’s a murderer…he’s an animal!”
She was escorted out and the judge threatened to empty the room if there were any other interruptions.
The woman’s emotional outburst came as Saalfield’s attorney John LoTurco said he wanted to express his deepest condolences to Rosales’ family.
Saalfield was arrested Wednesday after Rosales’ death reignited tension between Huntington Station residents and Suffolk County police, who community members said weren’t doing enough to solve several unsolved homicides.
Prosecutors said DNA evidence and security footage pointed them to Saalfield.
The alleged murder was caught on camera and blood belonging to both Saalfield and the victim was discovered near the crime scene, prosecutors said.
“Adam proclaims his innocence,” defense attorney John H. LoTurco told reporters. “It is our understanding that the district attorney’s office claims that it has a very strong case. We will strongly examine the evidence.”
LoTurco later told the Press that “Adam claims that he had no personal relationship” with Rosales.
Prosecutors described the alleged murder in gruesome detail.
Rosales was walking down Lynch Street with headphones in her ears when she was approached from behind, prosecutors said. Saalfield allegedly placed a knife to her neck and after a brief struggle slit her throat twice, prosecutors said.
Saalfield fled, prosecutors said, and left a blood trail.
Saalfield was arrested at his house six days later for possession of a hypodermic instrument. DNA from that arrest was compared to DNA found at Rosales’ murder scene, prosecutors said.
“My friend used those needles for heroin a while ago,” Saalfield allegedly told police after he was arrested on Oct. 18, according to court documents. “He left them in my car and I never got rid of them. I know that one’s not capped, sorry for that.”
Authorities did not say in the court documents what precipitated the arrest.
LoTurco said in an interview that officers conducting patrols in Huntington Station observed Saalfield smoking marijuana outside his home.
“What led them to search the vehicle is an outstanding question we need to explore,” he added.
Prosecutors description of Rosales’ murder conflicts with what police said in the department’s initial press release regarding her death. Police said she was stabbed in the torso. Prosecutors didn’t mention any wounds to her torso in court or in the criminal complaint.
Rosales’ uncle also told reporters that Saalfield and his niece did not know each other. He said grieving hasn’t been easy.
“We try to be as close as possible,” Rosales’ uncle said. “That’s the only way we’re able to get through this moment.”
He described his niece as a “sweet girl” with no enemies. She has “always been a very loving person, happy person,” he added. “It surprised everyone, even in the community.”