By Arielle Dollinger
Huntington Station resident Adam Saalfield pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder after being arrested in connection with the Oct. 12 stabbing death of Walt Whitman High School senior Maggie Rosales.
Saalfield, 21, was arrested Wednesday afternoon and charged with second-degree murder two and a half weeks after Rosales was found dead on Lynch Street shortly before 11:30 p.m.
Inside the courtroom, a woman seats away from Rosales' father, Cesar, stood and shouted at Saalfield.
“He’s a murderer! Animal!” she yelled, pointing at Saalfield as she spoke.
Assistant District Attorney Raphael Pearl painted a gruesome picture of Rosales’ death.
Pearl said surveillance footage shows a man approaching Rosales from behind, grabbing her and putting a knife to her throat. After a struggle between the two, Pearl said the man is seen slicing Rosales’ throat twice. When the violence was over, the video shows the man fleeing the scene, leaving behind a blood trail, Pearl said. That man, authorities allege, was Saalfield.
“It was a particularly brutal attack,” said Lt. Kevin Beyrer, the commanding officer of the Suffolk County PD homicide squad.
Saalfield’s attorney, John LoTurco, said he 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.
“If this case was clearly depicted on the video, then there would’ve been an arrest right away,” he said. “The arrest is based on DNA.”
LoTurco sought to have his client freed on bail, noting he has extended family in the area and would remain in the area. A 2011 Harborfields High School graduate, Saalfield has been working in a kitchen as a union employee, LoTurco said.
“He has nowhere else to go,” LoTurco said. But Judge Gigi Spelman said that Saalfield has a “huge” impetus to flee, and denied LoTurco’s request.
The weeks following Rosales’ death have been filled with community outcry for increased police presence in Huntington Station. After hundreds marched on Huntington Town Hall Oct. 21, additional police have been deployed and the Guardian Angels have stepped up community patrols.
After Saalfield was arrested, police closed Leyden Street near Varney Avenue for several hours while they searched his Leyden Street home. A veritable dragnet, including a command post, multiple police cruisers and K-9 units, was deployed, Beyrer said.
Following the arraignment, Rosales’ father said that he has “no idea” who Saalfield is. He thanked police and the community for their support.
“Thank God they got this animal,” Rosales said.
His brother, Edgar Rosales, added that Saalfield “is a predator that must be put away.”
According to court records, Saalfield was arrested on Oct. 18 in a separate incident. He has a pending charge for possession of a hypodermic instrument. At that time, LoTurco said, police found that his DNA matched DNA from the scene where Rosales’ body was found.
However, LoTurco said he doesn’t know how his client’s DNA was gathered, and added he plans to have the results and collection method analyzed.
“Adam lives in that area… so there could be incidental DNA mixed in with the victim,” LoTurco said.
Saalfield is due back in court Nov. 3, according to online court records.