MAYS LANDING- The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that a Somers Point man whose request was denied for a new attorney was not stripped of a constitutional right.
Luis Maisonet who was convicted of murder in December 2017, filed a direct appeal on April 10, 2018, and argued among other issues, that his constitutional right to counsel was denied when the trial judge denied his request for a continuance to retain private counsel.
“We are delighted that the Supreme Court agreed with Judge Taylor’s decision in the trial court. This defendant only sought to delay the inevitable finding that he purposely murdered Christopher Romero, and will continue to spend the rest of his life in state prison as a result of his selfish acts,” said Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said.
On the first day of trial, prior to choosing a jury, but 15 months after the murder, Maisonet decided that he no longer wanted his current public defender. He ultimately requested a postponement to call family members to see if they could get money together to hire private counsel.
Judge Donna Taylor denied the request and recognized that knew the offer, knew who his attorney was and knew that on that day, his trial was going to commence.
At the Supreme Court, Assistant Prosecutor Nicole Campellone argued that Maisonet’s constitutional rights were not violated when the trial judge denied his last minute request for private counsel. Assistant Prosecutor Campellone’s argument was that the conversation that took place between the Court and Maisonet provided the judge with the necessary information to make the decision to deny the request.
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner’s opinion was released on Tuesday with the Supreme Court majority upholding Maisonet’s conviction.
Maisonet, 56, was sentenced by Judge Donna Taylor to Life in New Jersey state prison and he will not be eligible for parole for 65 years. Judge Taylor also presided over the trial.
Maisonet was found guilty by a jury in December 2018 of the following:
· Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose
· Aggravated Assault by Pointing a Firearm at a Person
· Unlawful Possession of a Firearm
· Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Person
On Sept. 1, 2016, the Atlantic City Police Department, the New Jersey State Police and the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office responded to “The Walk,” at approximately 12:00 p.m., where a man was discovered shot in the Zumiez Store at The Walk. The male victim who was identified as Romero, of Absecon, was transported to the Atlantic Care Regional Medical Center, City Division where he was pronounced dead.
Maisonet, 56, of Somers Point, who was identified as the shooter, fled the scene, and suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The case was prosecuted by First Assistant Prosecutor Cary Shill and Assistant Prosecutor Brett Yore.
Anyone with information involving serious crimes is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-909-7800 or go to the Prosecutor’s Office Web site at http://www.acpo.org/tips.html and provide information by filling out the form anonymously on the Submit a Tip page. People can also call Crime Stoppers at 609-652-1234 or 1-800-658-8477(TIPS) or visit the Crime Stoppers Website at http://www.crimestoppersatlantic.com/. Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those who commit crimes in Atlantic County.