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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.

 

Terri Tauber July 30, 2010 at 08:19 PM
Heather -- again, great coverage. I especially appreciated the video. Pat - watch the video. The comments you are referring to are at the very end. I believe he stated that he didn't believe the additional police would have prevented something like this but the point was that "upscale" communities are not immune to this type of crime.
reality check July 30, 2010 at 08:40 PM
The County Prosecutor has every right as the Chief Law enforcement officer to say what he said. I heard him clearly say as Terri pointed out that he didn't believe that the additional police would have prenvented this. Pat you seem to have an issue with the priorities of the Summit Police Department. First it was the pedestrian accident near your residence, which would be a traffic enforcement priority. Now the center of town is a priority. The City Council has said there safety priority is pedestrain safety. Pat, there are many priorities and every area of town has them. Why don't you speak with Councilwoman Portuondo who apparently took the opportunity to ride with the police department and ask her waht she learned about the police priorities. Ive listened to enough council meetings and residents speak, that the priority of the community has always been traffic enforcement. The Summit police department is making due with less and they are making arrests and solving crimes, but being down four officers (yes four, two were seriously injured arresting a wanted person about a month ago i've heard) it does stretch the capabilities of the department. I also would like you to listen to the press conference as it is posted here on the patch and listen to the facts laid out in this case. After hearing those facts, it would appear that the Mayor was informed of what took place in a timely fashion.
Tom Ucko July 30, 2010 at 08:45 PM
If I've read all the press reports correctly, having robbery as the motive makes it a more serious crime than if it was a random thrill beating that got out of hand. I think that was a factor in elevating the charges to felony murder from initial charge of manslaughter.
MsSummit July 30, 2010 at 08:55 PM
I listened to the tape...the County Prosecutor did state that he heard that Summit had recently reduced it's Police Force...and that is a MISTAKE (or words to that effect). He went on to say, a sentence or so later, that even if they had the extra staff this crime would have happened. Sounds pretty fishy to me.....HE CLEARLY MADE A JUDGMENT--unrelated to the crime he was reporting on--THAT REDUCING POLICE IS A MISTAKE. As for traffic enforcement....another joke.... I walk by the Middle School to get the train....and I CANNOT BELIEVE how many cars go through the cross walk, even when the Crossing Guard is out there, with her ORANGE VEST and handheld STOP SIGN.... it is bad enough that they don't stop for adults...but the kids is a bigger worry....most of our kids walk to school....so, if they want to do something about traffic enforcement...start with the marked cross walk on Morris in front of the Middle School--they'll have no trouble coming up with the funds for an extra Police officer or two after a month of writing tickets... Anyone who believes the story that the prosecutor's office is now feeding us is woefully naive... Just watch out before you step into a crosswalk.... your blissful ignorance may end up with you wearing someone's tire track....
reality check July 30, 2010 at 09:19 PM
As the Chief Law enforcement officer in Union County I would think he has that right to make a judgement. I am sure you are right about the cross walk by the middle school. And might I add every intersection in town. Even if all 46 police officer were working at one time, they could not cover every intersection that people complain about. Reality is that the police in any town in any county cannot be everywhere. Your suggestion that the officers sit there and write tickets to hire more officers is a bit silly and would be argued by some on this forum that they already do that and should have been in the center of town of foot. As your post points out, your priority is the pedestrain safety near the middle school which is apparently near where you live. Pat's was the intersection of Ashland and Mountain where he lives. And it appears that you know more than what the prosecutor said in his statement today? I guess you have been interviewing witnesses and suspects too or do you have some super human power that allows you to know what really happened?
reality check July 30, 2010 at 09:40 PM
Pat, I am not going to argue good expericences or bad about an incidents that involved you. I have read many of your posts and I have to say that the issues that you raise are not just the police's providence. That intersection is to my understanding, mostly if not completely the county of Union. What I will argue is that I have seen officers on foot in the center of town for many years including the past five as you state. Have I seen them all the time, no. But like many who have been stopped by the police, maybe I just didn't see them because I was not looking for them. If you look at the open line, one of the stated goals of the council was pedestrain safety. Maybe the question is who sets the priorities of the department or any department for that matter and who then comes back and looks at the hard numbers. I have never heard in a council meeting what the goals of any of the city's departments are and at the end of the year were they met? Lets look at Community Services for example, are they doing all they can to enforce the housing codes? What determines the success or failure of their meeting their goals. Finally, while you have had your share of bad experiences, I have had some good ones. And I would bet that the maority of the officers of the Summit Police Department take it personnally that this horrendous crime happened and take pride in what they do and wish that they were able to stop this murder from happening
MsSummit July 30, 2010 at 09:54 PM
My superhuman power is called "a brain". As for making a judgment, well, in the context in which it was brought up--it was inappropriate and uncalled for. He almost immediately regretted his statement...by then saying that more police would not have made a difference in the matter of this man's murder (guess he has a super human power...or maybe he suddenly realized that by saying the reduction in police staff played a role in the murder would either put the city in some kind of jeapordy (financial or pr-wise) or somehow reflect poorly on the mayor or the police...not sure, but there was some pretty fast back-peddling going on. As for the middle school....no, I don't live near the middle school...but I am a parent, and have been appalled at how the cars don't stop--even with the guard and kids in the crosswalk. And, yes, I've called Lt. Dougherty about this, he has been sympathetic (he has kids himself)...but nothing seemed to change...so I've stopped calling. As for how the police spend their time.....traffic tickets, etc...I don't know...that seems to be suggested, and based on the police reports, they do seem to find an awful lot of people with suspiciously ethnic sounding names driving while suspended, and other strange (and some more standard) traffic infractions.....so figure that out for yourself...
Summit Res July 30, 2010 at 09:54 PM
I agree with Ms Summit - there is something very fishy about the whole story. I wasn't until two days later the police realized a crime hsad been commited? Come on "a stoke or an aneurism" - (if that's how bad Overlook is then we need the Helipad - to fly people out for proper medical care), why was he bleeding out of the mouth - I suppose he could have fallen after the "aneurism". There is no way that the doctors could have missed that he had been beaten - they weren't the ones relieving him of his wallet, that was the nurse's duty. I have no faith in the Mayor or the Police Chief - they didn't even show up last night - guess is they did not want to have to answer any tough questions. As far as the traffic situation goes, yes not every junction can be monitored all the time, but the middle school one mentioned has to be one of the worst. Also whenever I go into town at lunchtime during the week >30% of all drivers are on cellphones - I've never seen a single one pulled over for that not even the one that went through the crosswalk that I was crossing; even she doesn't know what she did, she was too busy dialing to even notice after the fact! I've even had cars pull round me to pass when I'm stopped at a crosswalk! I don't know Pat Hurley but his or her comments seem a lot closer to reality than those of reality check.
reality check July 30, 2010 at 10:16 PM
Can I ask this one question. If lets say there a five officers working where would you like them to be ? Please keep in mind that as each of you have specific complaints about specific areas, so does Pat where he lives and so do others where they live. Where should those officers be place? We all can find fault but what do you suggest as a solution? And one final thought, you think it was not possible for a doctor to misdiagnose something? Wow, I did not know they were infallable! I guess the malpractice attorneys will be out of work!
Summit Res July 31, 2010 at 01:02 AM
It's not my job to figure out where the officers should be - that's why we have a police chief. They can't be everywhere at once but perhaps 15 minutes in the morning at the middle school would be useful, perhaps enforcing no stopping and insane u-turns on Kent Place in the morning at the HS would be a start - I doubt that there is a problem at the Promenade at that time in the morning. Likewise in the evenings there is unlikely to be traffic probems at the MS so less need to be there. They are mobile, and priorities can change during the day, is that so hard to figure out? From personal experience I am very well aware how fallible doctors can be - but "misdiagnose" is a gross understatement when referring to the difference between someone being punched unconscious and bleeding from their mouth and someone having a stroke/aneurism - isn't Overlook supposed to be a stroke center , wasn't that supposed to be the excuse for the Helipad? I doubt any of these great "stroke" MDs thought it was a stroke/aneurism. There's more to this story - we're just not hearing about it, (and knowing Summit, we probably never will).
Deb McCann July 31, 2010 at 12:32 PM
As reality check said, and I have heard from other sources, about 4 to 5 policemen/women are on patrol during each shift. I am seeking to understand how this is possible with 46 police. I realize there are 3 shifts, and 7 days, so obviously all aren't available at one time, but maybe 10 at any one time? I am not sure. I need help understanding this - maybe somebody out there can help answer. Thanks.
Thom Rogers July 31, 2010 at 01:12 PM
I have lived in Summit now for over 25 years. I am a born and bred New Yorker who fled the New York City of Rudy Giuliani back in the 80's when the city was falling apart. Crime was on the rise. The streets were filthy. And the quality of life was at its lowest level in years. We chose to live in Summit for everything the City was not. But there are certain aspects of suburban life which are not dissimilar o urban living. One of them is the fact that teenagers are teenagers. If I was offered a chance to start my life over at any point, the last place I would start would be my teen years. It is a period of growth, physically, mentally, psychologically, and emotionally. It is filled with awe and fear. It is an in-between time when you are no longer a child but not yet an adult. It is a time of exploration and experimentation. It is a time when very good things happen, and often, very bad things. And for the parents, it is a time when they must be most attentive to the needs of their children. Some parents are blissfully unaware of their child's night time activities. One of which is drinking. If you ask the local Summit PD DARE officer what the number one problem among teens is, he will tell you it is alcohol abuse. And I have seen it many times first hand. Take a stroll through Wilson Park on a Saturday or Sunday morning and count the number of empty beer cans. We'd better start paying more attention to our children before something even worse happens.
Melissa August 01, 2010 at 03:49 AM
<i>We'd better start paying more attention to our children before something even worse happens.</i> Thom you say something worse? what can be worse then beating an innocent man to death?
Dixieboy August 01, 2010 at 02:42 PM
Patrick Hurley obviously has an ax to grind with the police department. Now he is criticizing a person working eight hours. Eight times five equals 40 hours, which is the normal working week in America. Wake up Hurley, you sound rediculous.
Greg K August 01, 2010 at 06:25 PM
Mr. Hurley: “RISK FREE”???? You are starting to sound a tad dim-witted
Summit Res August 02, 2010 at 03:14 AM
With vacations and holidays etc assume: 46 weeks a year * (40 hours a week * 46 people)/(24*365). This crude estimate =9.66 on duty at any one time. Deb McCann suggests 4-5 on patrol during a shift. Add in sick time, ( many unionized public employees get plenty of that), disability, training, office work, breaks etc. it not difficult to imagine that this gets down to 4-5 on patrol at any one time. Also does the 46 include civillian staff members - I don't know. I know I made some assumptions here but my guess is I'm not wildly off.
MsSummit August 02, 2010 at 08:56 AM
I think we are losing focus of the real issues related to this tragedy 1- The "facts" don't add up--alleged bungled robbery; neither first responders nor hospital staff realize the victim was beaten until a video surfaces? 2- Police chief and Mayor both seem to be involved in some sort of cover up--perhaps to protect themselves, the town's image/financial interests (real estate values, etc)--they were quick to rule out "hate crime"--again, counter to Summit's projected image of "diversity." 3- Public is not informed in a timely manner (related to the "cover up"), and information still seems to be slow in coming. The Police chief would have you believe they didn't want to interfere with the investigation (I think I read that at some point as a possible explanation as to why public wasn't notified...but then they claim they didn't realize for days that the victim was beaten...what is the truth?) 4- Are the alleged perpetrators residents of Summit, students in the public schools, or not? Why is this not being confirmed by the Supt or School board? There have been various reports regarding the address of the 18 yr old (doesn't exist), the 17 year old was in school and dropped out, the 18 year old was to begin in Sept. What is the truth? 5- Romanakow's comments regarding the staff reductions in Summit were clearly politically motivated, and completely irrelevant to this case (he himself said so). 6- Let's keep the focus on the "leaders"--Mayor and Police Chief.
Summit Res August 02, 2010 at 01:31 PM
I agree - all good questions and I'd like some answers. With Glatt, Parker and Lucid I doubt we'll see any and if we do they'll be vague, partial, and condescending.
Lucy August 03, 2010 at 02:26 AM
You must mean you fled the New York City of Mayor Ed Koch, Guiliani wasn't in office until 1994 and of course crime dropped with him in office.
Summithing2say August 05, 2010 at 04:15 PM
1. Patrol work 11 hour shifts, just ask them, or maybe not since after reading all of your posts they are probably not going to want to give you much information, but that is the truth. 2. Mayor/Chief are not covering anything, but before they tell the whole story (the TRUTH) they must finish investigations, that is their job. Mr. Mazariego did not have bruises yet, you don’t bruise right away from being hit. You bang your knee on your desk and the bruise shows up 8 hours later sometimes longer. Use common sense, no one told the police this was a beating and they didn’t witness it. Just like they don’t witness the fall grandma took or the car accident on Summit Ave etc. 3. Seems there is no respect for the police. I’m sure your children are just as disrespectful and you have now created a bigger problem, your daughter was followed by the police, she was obviously doing something wrong (if this is even true), I’m pretty sure that the police have better things to do with their time. Is that what she told you because you have instilled in her that police are the enemy?
Summithing2say August 05, 2010 at 04:16 PM
4. The police union didn’t make the choice to not fill those vacancies – what council meeting were you at? 5. Madden was called a liar because he wasn’t being honest or had his numbers wrong and admitted that. Bottom line is he was wrong. 6. I know plenty of people who make well over $100,000 and work 8 hour days, sometimes less. $100,000 is not really all that much anymore. Look around the town you live in, I am sure there are plenty of people who make ten times that amount, if not more. Yes some may work longer hours but it’s all relative, and my guess is they don’t strap a gun to their waist while delegating to their assistant from the golf course... and I am not sticking it to those people, good for them! Are you jealous?
Just Saying August 05, 2010 at 05:57 PM
The average hours worked in the United States is according to Dept of Labor Statistics was 37.9 Hours. The Average work hours according to a gallop survey recently taken was I believe 42.9 hours. I am sure Lt. Dougherty has put in many hours without being compensated and he does not receive a year-end bonus as many who do work over 40 hours. There is also laws that apply to overtime for Police And Fire under the Fair Labor Standards Act and finally there is a contract in place. Our military men and woman who have their boots on the ground in war torn areas, deserve to be fairly compensated for what they do as well and if they are not then the military leaders should be fighting for them to be fairly compensated. Maybe the military is paying too many ranking officers who also should retire as well.
Dixieboy August 05, 2010 at 06:13 PM
John O: Excellent points.
Just Saying August 05, 2010 at 06:18 PM
How about applying the median income for the state of NJ, Pat? $70, 347 or the median income for the City of Summit ranginf from one source as $93, 785 to a high of $113,460. Second I reread the the posts about the various unions and they way I read it, the police are still under contract and they approached the city and the city turned down the offer. And Risk Free? The talk is that there are two officers injured, one may be out for up to a year. How about Officer Conte, who was seriously injured helping commuters crossing Broad St, or Officer Monticello, who was out for over a year, after being struck by a car directing traffic helping the commuters cross the street. I know you are talking about the risk of losing ones job, but Summit is no diferent than anytown USA. As far as working more than 40 hours a week, I come from a corporate background and while I work many times more that 40 hours a week, I also get a bonus, just as I am sure you do as an Executive Vice President of Goldman Sachs? They seemed to be pretty free with the Bonuses as reported the average bonus was about $500,000. Pretty fair compensation for working more than 40 hours a week I would say.
Summithing2say August 06, 2010 at 02:48 PM
Pat: Why don't you join the auxillary police and volunteer your expertise?
Summithing2say August 06, 2010 at 04:51 PM
http://www.cityofsummit.org/pdflibrary/volunteerapplication.pdf call the city clerk's office at 908 273-6400 Police Department Auxiliary Division The Auxiliary Division assists the Police Department in safeguarding the security, health, and welfare of the general public. Auxiliary police officers must complete a course of instruction at the County Police Academy.

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