By Jano Tantongco
Donald Ullobueso said he was walking to a friend’s house on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, shortly before midnight, when he saw a young woman lying face down on Lynch Street in Huntington Station.
“I approached because it was a cold night,” and readied to give her his sweater, he said Monday while under oath.
But, Ullobueso continued, he quickly realized what he stumbled upon.
“I saw blood all around,” and immediately called 911, he said. At the operator’s request, he touched the woman’s back to see if she was breathing. She wasn’t.
That woman was identified as 18-year-old Maggie Rosales, of Huntington Station. Ullobueso said he didn’t immediately recognize her, but soon realized she was his friend, a senior two grades above him at Walt Whitman High School.
Ullobueso recalled this scene on Monday as the trial for Rosales’ accused killer, 22-year-old Adam Saalfield, began in the Riverhead courtroom of state Supreme Court Justice John Collins. Saalfield faces a second-degree murder charge.
Before the testimony, jurors watched surveillance footage captured by a motion-activated camera placed on the side of Sinai Furniture store, which is located at 202 Depot Road, adjacent to Lynch Street.
The footage shows Rosales wearing earphones and walking down Lynch Street at around 10:58 p.m. She’s approached by a person obscuring their face, and wearing a dark jacket and a light-colored hooded sweatshirt.
The person lunges at Rosales, grabbing her neck, wrestling her to the ground, and picking her up and putting her back down. In the struggle, Rosales was slashed twice on her neck, on the front and right side, according Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Raphael Pearl, the lead prosecutor.
In his opening statement, Pearl explained that Rosales’ left and right carotid arteries were severed. He said her trachea was nearly cut in half by a “knife, or knife-like,” object.
Footage filmed from Xtra Fuels gas station, across Depot Road from the furniture store, was also shown. That footage captured a person parking their car and walking into the station’s convenience store around 13 minutes before the attack on Rosales was captured on film. The person in the footage is wearing “the exact same clothes” as the individual shown in footage of the attack, according to Pearl.
In the gas station footage, the person’s face isn’t covered, and Pearl claimed that person is Saalfield. He called it a “perfect face shot of the defendant.”
Pearl later said Saalfield’s blood was DNA tested, and was found in the blood trail at the scene of the attack. Pearl said the blood trail led to Saalfield’s Leyden Street home in Huntington Station. An Oct. 29, 2014 search warrant also found blood matching Rosales’ DNA on the top of Saalfield’s boots, Pearl added.
Craig McElwee, the attorney representing Saalfield, did not address the gas station footage on Monday, but said there is no adequate evidence his client is the person shown attacking Rosales.
One “cannot tell the identity of the individual,” McElwee said.
Also in his opening statement, McElwee claimed that the prosecution does not “know what the weapon was.” McElwee said Saalfield was later found in legal possession of a knife, but he claimed there were no traces of evidence found on it.
McElwee also addressed the blood found on Saalfield’s boots, calling it “contact blood” and saying that it could have gotten there in a number of ways.
Rosales’ father, Cesar Rosales, also testified on Monday. He said he last saw his daughter before she left their Leyden Street home on the night of the attack. After she left, he went to sleep, since he had work at Huntington Hospital the next day.
Detectives arrived at the hospital that morning “to give the bad news,” he said.
The trial is ongoing and is expected to last two weeks.