ELIZABETH–Kharyi Williams-Clark, the 18-year-old Summit teen charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of Abelino Mazariego, waived his right to appear at his arraignment Friday morning in Union County Superior Court.
Dawn Marie Nee, Williams-Clark's public defender, said after speaking with her client extensively Thursday, he wished to request his right to appear before Judge Joan Robinson Gross be waived.
Jim Donnelly, assistant prosecutor, said the state has no objection and Williams-Clark did not appear in court.
"This is a formal proceeding just to advise him of the charges and we were satisfied that his attorney advised him of the charges," Donnelly said. "There was no need for him to appear at this particular point."
Nee also requested the case move right to the Grand Jury at the conclusion of the prosecutor's investigation. Donnelly also agreed to those terms. No family or friends of either the victim or the suspect were present in court Friday morning.
No court date has been set.
Williams-Clark was charged Wednesday after a multi-day investigation by Summit Police and the Union County Prosecutor's Office.
A 17-year-old juvenile was also charged with manslaughter and is being separately arraigned in juvenile court, a proceeding not open to the public.
According to Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow, Mazariego was on a bench in the promenade off of Springfield Avenue on July 17 around 9:30 p.m. when he was approached by a group of teenagers.
The Promenade is a common gathering place in the heart of downtown Summit with benches, a fountain and artwork. It is located near the Tier Parking Garage on Springfield Avenue.
Colin Crasto, manager at Dabbawalla, said the restaurant was closed for the day on Saturday because of an off-site catering job. A few employees stayed behind at the restaurant to help prep what was needed and Crasto sent Mazariego home around 8 p.m.
Crasto said he believes Mazariego went across the street to Doria Pizzeria for a slice of pizza after work.
"And the next day he was supposed to come in," Crasto said. "Obviously he didn't show."
According to the investigation, the two teens facilitated the attack, said Romankow, causing serious injury. It appears to be an unprovoked attack, although the case remains under investigation.
Police were called to the scene soon after the attack where they discovered Mazariego suffering from severe head trauma. He was transported to Overlook Hospital and died on Tuesday, having never regained consciousness, Romankow said.
The incident was videotaped by another teen, who has not been identified, and the videotape had apparently been viewed by other teenagers.
Mayor Jordan Glatt held a press conference Thursday afternoon at which he divulged some additional details about the incident.
Glatt said the Summit First Aid Squad transported the victim to Overlook Hospital. The family was notified of Mazariego's serious condition around midnight and he died Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Glatt and Council President Dave Bomgaars issued a joint statement Friday on the incident.
"Summit is a community that neither expects nor will ever accept violence against any of its citizens, and the murder of this hard-working father and husband is a tragedy that is deeply felt throughout the community," it reads.
However some who know the victim and his family say that Mazariego walked to the parking lot next to the Summit Train Station and that is where he collapsed and eventually was taken to Overlook.
Crasto, restaurant manager at the Dabbawalla Indian restaurant on Springfield Avenue where Mazariego worked as a dishwasher and food prep, remembers the victim as a humble man.
"He was very hardworking, gentle, punctual, always had a smile," Crasto said. "There was a big language barrier obviously because none of us spoke Spanish, but we overcame it."
Martin Mendz, a chef at Cafe Mavi where Mazariego's son Avelino has worked for three years, said the victim has two sons and two daughters, all natives of El Salvador.
On Tuesday after his father died at Overlook, Mendz says Avelino came back to work.
"Everyone was crying," Mendz said. "He said he couldn't stay there."
Crasto also said the family wants to bring the body back to El Salvador for burial. Mazariego's wife came by the restaurant on Monday asking Crasto to find out when her husband's paycheck, issued Friday, had been cashed.
As far he knows, Crasto said, Mazariego had no money on him when he was found but he and his employees are doing everything they can to help the family.
"It's a terrible, terrible thing to have happened to such a hard working gentleman," he said.
Anyone wishing to assist the family may make donations to the Summit Area Public Foundation, P.O. Box 867, Summit, NJ 07902.
"I wish to express our heartfelt sympathy for the family of Mr. Mazariego and to pledge our support to help his family in their time of need," Glatt said.
Crasto, restaurant manager at Dabbawalla, has also set up a donation box for the family at the restaurant.
The Summit Interfaith Council also issued a statement Friday expressing their dismay over the incident.
"As people of faith, we cannot – and we will not – stand idly in response to this horrible crime," the statement from Rabbi Avi Friedman reads.
The statement goes on to pray for the victim's family, the youth of the Summit community and the city of Summit itself.
"This sacred space that we call home has been violated and defiled. We must begin the difficult task of reclaiming and rededicating our home. We must make it clear to citizens and visitors alike that we do not tolerate this kind of violence and that the streets of Summit are–and will continue to be–safe for all of us," it reads.
Glatt also released the details of Mazariego's funeral, including a wake at Dangler Funeral Home July 24 from 5-10 p.m. with a funeral mass on July 26 at 10:45 a.m. at St. Teresa's Church. There will also be a community memorial service Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.. Location to be announced.