Widow speaks about husband’s murder  as suspect goes to court
Longtime Amenia resident Juan Cedillo, above, was killed on Sunday, Jan. 16. David A. Trotta is being charged. The two were neighbors in the same Wassaic apartment building. Photo submitted

Widow speaks about husband’s murder as suspect goes to court

WASSAIC — More than one month after David A. Trotta, 26, of Wassaic was arrested for killing her husband, Vivian Serrano-Cedillo is hoping justice will be served as she continues to try to heal in the crime’s aftermath.

Grateful to all who have offered their support in this difficult time after 45-year-old Juan Carlos Cedillo was stabbed to death outside of their Wassaic apartment house, Serrano-Cedillo recently opened up to The Millerton News about her husband and the events surrounding his tragic demise.

The recent widow said the couple was married for two years, living in an apartment house at 173 South Amenia Road.

Cedillo had lived in the town of Amenia for 25 years; Serrano-Cedillo said he lived in the Wassaic apartment where they made their home three years before they met.

While the couple didn’t have any children, Cedillo had two daughters from a previous marriage: Mariana Cedillo, 21, of Wassaic and Alexia Cedillo, 16, of Millbrook.

His sister, Minerva Cedillo, owns the Mexican restaurant La Cazeula in Dover Plains.

Employed as a landscaper for Northwest Lawn and Landscaping, Cedillo is remembered as having a big heart, always willing to help anyone in need of assistance.

“He was a great person, he was a good friend, he was a good employee and we will miss him terribly,” said Amiee Duncan, co-owner of the Millerton-based company that has a workshop in Wassaic. “This was truly a tragedy.”

“He was a loving man who never held grudges and forgave with ease,” Serrano-Cedillo said. “He appreciated nature and would never want to bring harm to anyone.”

Explaining the layout of their apartment building, Serrano-Cedillo said six people lived on two floors. In addition to her and Cedillo, two other tenants occupied the first floor: Trotta and his mother.

Asked about her husband’s relationship with Trotta and if he was a good neighbor, Serrano-Cedillo replied she wasn’t aware that her husband even knew Trotta outside of being neighbors.

She didn’t recall any conversations between them and described Trotta as being very quiet. She said Trotta usually walked by without saying a word.

“The truth is, I didn’t learn his name until after the tragedy,” Serrano-Cedillo said.

She added she didn’t remember the police ever coming to the house for any complaints about Trotta, though she noted the entrance to his apartment was located on the other side of the apartment house.

Going back to late Sunday morning, Jan. 16, the day of the crime, Serrano-Cedillo said she was home when her husband was killed. She witnessed the whole event. She said she doesn’t know why her husband was attacked, adding it all happened quickly.

“I tried screaming and calling for help, but it seems no one else was home that day,” she recalled. “My adrenaline kicked in the minute I saw David on top of my husband striking him. I don’t know where the courage came from — except from God — because it didn’t take me long to spring into action.”

She said she grabbed the weapon out of Trotta’s hands, pulled him off her husband and held him down until the first police trooper arrived. In the seconds before she seized the weapon and the troopers appeared, she managed to call 911.

While she said she was on the phone and holding down the suspect, Serrano-Cedillo said two cars stopped — a moment that stands out vividly in her mind. She thought help had arrived, but said the first person who pulled up simply asked if anyone had called 911 before getting back in his vehicle and leaving. The second motorist exited his car, surveyed the situation and left without saying anything.

Serrano-Cedillo’s emergency call was placed at 11:51 a.m. and help arrived shortly thereafter. Despite the life-saving measures administered by medics and the Rescue Squad, Cedillo was pronounced dead at the scene.

Trotta was arrested at the scene and charged with Murder in the Second Degree, a class A-1 felony, and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the 4th degree, a class A misdemeanor.

A motive has not been identified at this time, according to prosecutor Sarah Thompson from the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office.

Thompson reported Trotta was scheduled to appear in the Dutchess County Court on Tuesday, March 1, before the Honorable Jessica Segal, pursuant to an indictment returned by the Grand Jury.

Acknowledging it will take time before she can pick up the pieces of her life again, Serrano-Cedillo said she’s leaning on God, prayer and faith to help her heal.

“When it comes to David, my hope is that justice be served,” she said.

These past few weeks, the community has stepped forward with compassion, both through words of support and financial donations made via GoFundMe pages.

Entitled “Help the Cedillo family with cost of tragedy,” Amenia resident Paul Winters was one of the first to create a GoFundMe page to help with funeral costs and medical bills. Raising a total of $8,790, Winters’ page has since closed.

Mariana Cedillo established the “Donations for Juan Carlos Cedillo’s Daughters” page, while Dover Plains resident Tyler Irish set up the “Help Cedillo Family with Funeral and Memorial” page on behalf of Minerva Cedillo.

“It always amazes me how people come together during traumatic times,” Serrano-Cedilla said. “I am grateful for all who have been in contact with me and have either given their time, resources and support in one way or another.”

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