By Arielle Dollinger
Evidence from a gas station near the spot where Maggie Rosales’ lifeless body was found and a blood trail leading to the suspect's home further tie the Huntington Station man accused of her murder to the scene, an assistant district attorney alleged this morning.
Security footage from a gas station near the spot of Rosales’ slaying places Adam Saalfield, 21, at the station minutes before the Oct. 12 attack, Assistant District Attorney Raphael Pearl told Judge William J. Condon today at Saalfield’s arraignment in Suffolk County Supreme Court in Riverhead.
In the video, Pearl said, Saalfield is wearing the same outfit worn by the assailant who attacked 18-year-old Rosales - a hoodie, a leather-type jacket and dark shoes - according to separate surveillance footage from the Depot Road building that houses Sinai Furniture Inc., located across the street from site where Rosales, a Walt Whitman High School senior, was stabbed to death.
A blood trail from the scene led to 19 Leyden Street – the address of Saalfield’s house – and DNA from that trail has been linked to Saalfield, Pearl said.
Facing second-degree murder charges, Saalfield maintained his innocence at his Nov. 6 arraignment. Judge Condon denied bail, just as Judge Gigi Spelman did at Saakfuekd’s Oct. 30 indictment.
Saalfield was arrested Oct. 29. Rosales was found dead on Lynch Street with two stab wounds to the neck, Pearl said.
Defense attorney John LoTurco has stressed that Saalfield did not know Rosales and had no motive to commit the crime. But Pearl said his case against Saalfield is strong.
“Just because it's not put on the record doesn't mean there's no motive,” Pearl said. “There's always a motive; but [you] can't always get into the mind of a killer.”
According to Pearl, surveillance footage from the Sinai Furniture Inc. building shows an individual approach Rosales, who has earbuds in her ears, from behind. After a struggle, the two fall to the ground and the attacker drags Rosales behind a vehicle before putting a knife to her throat and slicing twice.
According to court records, Saalfield was arrested in a separate incident on Oct. 18 and has a pending charge for possession of a hypodermic instrument. When police brought Saalfield in, they found that his DNA matched DNA from the scene where Rosales’ body was found, LoTurco said.
The case is “atypical of the homicide prosecution,” LoTurco said Oct. 30.
“Most homicides, there are full confessions – video-taped confessions,” LoTurco said. “Adam was interrogated and he denied any involvement, any knowledge of it and any relationship with the victim.”
LoTurco has not yet seen the surveillance video, but as far as he knows, he said, the perpetrator’s face is not visible in the footage. Pearl said that the individual in the video had the hood of his sweatshirt over his head while at the scene, obstructing his face.
“If this case was clearly depicted on the video, then there would’ve been an arrest right away,” LoTurco said. “The arrest is based on DNA.”
LoTurco said that his client’s defenses are “very strong.”
“The defense is he wasn’t there, he doesn’t know her, he has no motive whatsoever,” LoTurco said last week. “Adam lives in that area… so there could be incidental DNA mixed in with the victim, or, I don’t know if their DNA results are accurate.”
The method of DNA collection used has not been disclosed to LoTurco, he said, and the lawyer plans to have the results and collection method analyzed.
Saalfield lives several houses away from the Rosales’ residence. No one answered the door to his residence on Wednesday afternoon.
He has lived in Huntington Station for about four years, LoTurco said in court on Nov. 6, but has lived in the Town of Huntington his entire life. After graduating Harborfields High School, Saalfield attended Valley Forge Military Academy, LoTurco continued, and took a job at a nursing home. His mother works at the same nursing home, LoTurco said.
Saalfield is due back in court on Dec. 17.
Today, Rosales’ father, Cesar Rosales, who works two jobs and took off of work to go to the arraignment, said that he is happy that Saalfield remains held without bail.
“It's a mix; it’s a mix of feelings,” he said.