Former girlfriend testifies at Atlantic City Walk murder trial
Jealousy and anger fueled a deadly shooting at Atlantic City’s Walk last year, according to testimony at the trial of the accused killer. Luis Maisonet allegedly shot Christopher Romero, 26, on Sept. 1, 2016, as the victim worked inside Zumiez in The Walk. Romero was expecting a baby with Maisonet’s ex-girlfriend, a son born several months after his father was killed the woman testified Tuesday. She and Maisonet had a daughter, who is now 11. After shooting Romero several times, Maisonet walked across Columbus Boulevard and Arkansas Avenue to White House|Black Market, where Jennifer Villanueva worked. She was folding clothes when Maisonet walked in, she testified. “I said, ‘Oh God, what do you want?’” she recalled. Maisonet then went into a New York and Co. white bag, reached in like he was looking for something and pulled out a gun, Villanueva said. She didn’t believe it was real at first. Even after he pointed it at her, said “Bye, bye, baby,” and shot. The bullet didn’t strike her. Then, she said, Maisonet turned the gun on himself and fired. “He fell,” Villanueva said. “I didn’t see any blood, so I thought it was fake.” She froze, then crawled over and called the police. An off-duty Bellmawr officer who was shopping there made his way to Maisonet, who tried to take the gun and leave. “The cop jumped on top of him and told him he wasn’t going anywhere,” Villanueva said. The officer, Bellmawr Police Sgt. Christopher Cummings, is expected to testify Wednesday. She didn’t know that Romero had been killed until police told her.
Villanueva was just 18 when she met Maisonet, who owned a store in Atlantic City at the time. He was nearly a quarter-century older than the now-32-year-old woman. But in the last years of their relationship, there had been problems. “There was nothing there,” she said. “No love. We were just roommates.” She testified that she was “very unhappy,” and had tried to kick Maisonet out of their Somers Point home at least three times over the course of two years. Instead, he moved his mother in. “With him, you can’t argue,” Villanueva said during cross-examination. “You just have to say OK.” “Did you consider moving out?” defense attorney Katherine Weigel asked. “All the time,” Villanueva replied. “But you didn’t,” Weigel countered. “No,” Villanueva said. She did move out March 7, 2016, after she said Maisonet’s jealousy led him to punch Romero, who was just a friend at the time. Villanueva said she grew closer to Romero as she tried to protect him from Maisonet. The two became romantically involved toward the end of April. In June, she discovered she was pregnant. Maisonet “told me the baby was no good,” she said. The trial will continue Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Donna Taylor.