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.
According to officials, 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," Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said. "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.”
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 the 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.
According to officials, 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
According to police, on September 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.
Police said that 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, police said.