Worker recalls waking up next to New City woman’s bloody corpse

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NEW CITY, N.Y. (AP) – The contractor’s employee accused of raping and killing a suburban housewife in her home last April testified Tuesday that his only recollection of what happened that day was waking up alongside her bloody and mutilated corpse.

Douglas Herrera Castellanos, 30, was the last witness at his murder trial, which is expected to go to the jury on Wednesday. He testified in his own defense after the Rockland County medical examiner produced crime scene photos that reduced some of the jurors to tears.

Herrera said that on the night before the April 29, 2005, slaying, he was drinking at several locations, using cocaine and visiting a prostitute – spending almost all of his $720 paycheck. He arrived the next day at the New City home of Mary Nagle, 42, to clean the deck on her family’s house but said he couldn’t remember most of what happened after that.

He said he had no recollection of entering the house, for example, but he remembered leaving after Nagle was killed.

“I woke up next to her,” Herrera said during questioning by his attorney, Barry Weiss. “She was naked. My right leg was over her. … I saw a lot of blood, a lot of things in disarray. I saw my clothes full of blood.”

Herrera acknowledged swapping his blood-soaked clothes for a pair of shorts and a T-shirt belonging to Nagle’s husband, Daniel, who wept inside the courtroom during the defendant’s testimony. The defendant also admitted lying to police about whether he was ever inside the Nagle home.

Weiss said outside the courtroom that if jurors find Herrera was too intoxicated to form the intent to kill Nagle, they might have to acquit him on most charges.

Rockland County District Attorney Michael Bongiorno, on cross-examination, asked Herrera what went through his head when he awoke next to the blood-covered body.

“Did it enter your mind, ‘Hey, I might have killed Mary Nagle?”‘ Bongiorno asked.

“Yes, sir,” said the Spanish-speaking Herrera, who testified with the help of an interpreter.

There were tears in the eyes of some jurors, too, when medical examiner Lone Thanning provided them with a clinical but grisly account of the victim’s injuries. Nagle – the mother of a 9-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy – fought with her killer for at least 15 minutes, Thanning testified, and perhaps for as long as 30 minutes.

The killer inflicted “among the most horrific injuries I’ve ever seen,” Thanning said. The jurors passed a tissue box, while some members of the panel simply turned away from the crime scene photos.

Herrera, a Guatemalan immigrant whose visa expired five years ago, is charged with first- and second-degree murder, rape and other crimes. He could face life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder.

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