Jim Fitzgerald, AP, March 23, 2006
NEW CITY, N.Y. — A prosecutor described in nightmarish detail Thursday the rape, mutilation and killing of a suburban housewife, allegedly at the hands of a worker who was supposed to be power-washing her deck.
The assault on 42-year-old Mary Nagle was so brutal that crime-scene investigators found a piece of her ear and hanks of her hair scattered around her bedroom, Rockland County District Attorney Michael Bongiorno said at the start of the defendant’s trial. One of the victim’s fingers was nearly amputated as she tried to fend off her attacker.
The April 29 killing, in a quiet, manicured neighborhood of New City, exposed the danger of a common situation in the suburbs — the husband at work, the kids at school, the housewife home alone and a contractor on the scene, often with access to the house.
Bongiorno said Nagle was in her bedroom, changing into tennis clothes, when the attacker sneaked in with his knife, “tearing her clothes off, beating her mercilessly, slashing her with the razor.”
“Mary Nagle put up a courageous struggle, but she was no match,” he said. The attack culminated Nagle being strangled so hard that it broke a bone in her neck, he said.
Ronald Douglas Herrera Castellanos, 30, is charged with 15 counts of first — and second-degree murder, most of them based on the allegation that he killed Nagle while committing other felonies including rape, robbery and burglary. He is also charged with those crimes separately. If convicted of first-degree murder, he would face life in prison with no chance of parole.
His attorney, Barry Weiss, decided not to make an opening statement for the defense. Outside the courtroom, he said, “We will test all the claims made by the people.” He said he has not decided whether Herrera, an immigrant from Guatemala whose visa expired in 2001, will testify.
As he was fleeing, police said, Herrera made several calls to numbers programmed into Nagle’s phone, lewdly describing what he had done. Bongiorno said Thursday that the calls were made specifically to female friends and relatives.