Police Say Mazariego Murder Was Robbery Gone Wrong
Two additional minors charged with conspiracy for acting as lookouts on night of crime.
ELIZABETH–In a press conference Friday morning, Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow announced additional charges for the three teens previously charged in the case and charges for two more Summit teens.
In addition to the existing charges for manslaughter and murder, 18-year-old Khayri Williams-Clark of Summit, 19-year-old Nigel Dumas of Morristown and an unidentified 17-year-old minor are also being charged with homicide for causing serious bodily injury and first-degree robbery.
Two additional teens are being charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery and aggravated assault.
Romankow said on the night of July 17, a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old served as lookouts while Williams-Clark, Dumas and the third unidentified minor planned to rob 47-year-old Abelino Mazariego who was relaxing on a park bench in the Promenade on Springfield Avenue after his shift at Dabbawalla.
The teens came upon Mazariego who was consuming alcohol, Romankow said. The teens discovered Mazariego had cash in his pocket from just cashing his paycheck and that's when they decided to rob the victim.
"It was a crime of opportunity," he said.
According to the investigation, Williams-Clark stood behind Mazariego and held the victim's own white T-shirt, which he had removed himself while lounging in the Promenade, over Mazariego's head while the 17-year-old punched him with brutal force. Dumas then punched the victim a second time.
The attack was recorded on a cell phone by one of the individuals in the area. The force of the blows knocked Mazariego unconscious and the teenagers then fled the scene, Romankow said. However, the teen who videotaped the attack is not being charged.
"We don't believe that he knew there was going to be a robbery," Romankow said.
The teens fled the Promenade and went to nearby Starbucks when they realized they had forgotten to take Mazariego's money and wristwatch. By the time they returned to the scene approximately 15 minutes later, good Samaritans had discovered the victim slumped over on a bench, bleeding from the mouth and called the police.
However, it was unknown at that time that a crime had been committed. It wasn't until Mazariego's wife Julia Celina notified the police that a video of her husband being beaten had surfaced that police began a criminal investigation on July 19.
When Mazariego was admitted to the hospital on July 17 it was at first thought he may have had a stroke or a brain aneurysm because of the bleeding around the victim's brain. Mazariego was unconscious when he was admitted and never regained consciousness.
All in all, Romankow said 14 teenagers, including several more from Morristown, were witnesses to the crime that night. However, only the five charged knew what was going to transpire.
"We're confident that we charged the right number of people," he said.
Romankow said that he does believe that when those teens punched Mazariego in the jaw that they intended to hurt him, however the victim was impaired by the alcohol he had consumed and was defenseless.
"I don't think he was targeted as a Latino," Romankow said.
A nurse at Overlook Hospital was also charged with theft for allegedly stealing Mazariego's money upon his arrival at the emergency room.
Mayor Jordan Glatt and Police Chief Robert Lucid were also present for the press conference.
"(Summit's) been violated," Glatt said. "We're in the healing process."
Assistant Prosecutor Jim Donnelly said the authorities plan to ask that the unidentified Summit teen who threw the first punch be tried as an adult.
Romankow also said the incident on July 17 had no connection to Mazariego's son Jose who is currently being held on luring charges from June.
He also said they are still awaiting the toxicology results for Mazariego to determine his blood alcohol concentration.
Romankow said he doesn't anticipate any more charges in the case however the investigation is still ongoing.