Third Suspect Charged as Adult in Mazariego Death
Hakean Fitzgerald, formally charged as a juvenile, was waived to adult court on Jan. 13.
A Summit teen who was previously charged as a minor was indicted before a Union County Grand Jury Friday afternoon in the July death of 47-year-old Summit resident Abelino Mazariego, said First Assistant Union County Prosecutor Albert Cernadas, Jr. in a press release.
Hakean Fitzgerald, 18, a sophomore at Summit High School who was waived to adult court on Jan. 13, Khayri Williams-Clark, 20 of Summit, and Nigel Dumas, 18 of Morristown, were indicted on charges of felony murder, first-degree murder and robbery. Two additional juveniles were charged in July with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery and aggravated assault.
Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow said at a July 30 press conference that 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 he finished his shift as a food-preparation worker and dishwasher at Dabbawalla.
Mazariego was drinking alcohol, Romankow said, when the teens approached him. According to Romankow, the teens discovered that Mazariego had just cashed his paycheck, so they decided to rob him.
"It was a crime of opportunity," he said.
According to investigators, Williams-Clark stood behind Mazariego and held the victim's 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 allegedly punched the victim a second time.
The attack allegedly 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. He added that 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.
According to prosecutors, the teens fled the Promenade and went to nearby Starbucks when they realized they had forgotten to take Mazariego's money and wristwatch. When they allegedly returned to the scene, approximately 15 minutes later, good Samaritans had discovered Mazariego slumped over on a bench, bleeding from the mouth and called the police.
When police arrived at the scene, they were unaware that a crime had been committed. Police didn't begin a criminal investigation until July 19, when Mazariego's wife, Julia Celina, notified the police that a video of her husband being beaten had surfaced.
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 in his brain. Mazariego was unconscious when he was admitted and never regained consciousness. He died on July 20.
All in all, Romankow said 14 teenagers, including several more from Morristown, witnessed the crime that night. He says that 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 the teens punched Mazariego in the jaw with the intention of hurting him. He said that Mazariego was defenseless because he'd been drinking alcohol. The prosecutor's office has yet to release his blood-alcohol level.
"I don't think he was targeted as a Latino," Romankow said.
Stephan Randolph, a nurse at Overlook Hospital, was also charged with theft for allegedly stealing Mazariego's money upon his arrival at the emergency room. Randolph, 39, of Flemington, was on duty at the hospital when emergency workers brought in Mazariego, who was suffering from severe head trauma, said Romankow. Randoloh has worked for Overlook for five years, Atlantic Health officials said.
Williams-Clark, Dumas and Fitzgerald will have a first court appearance scheduled in the coming weeks, according to John Holl from the Union County Prosecutor's Office.
Romankow also said in July that the incident on July 17 had no connection to Mazariego's son Jose, 23, who is currently being held on luring charges from June. Mazariego's other son Abelino, 26, was arrested in September on forgery charges for allegedly forging a donation check given to the family in the aftermath of his father's death.