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Re: SHOT DEAD ON HEIGHTS STREET -- Neighbor: Durango pulled up, sped away
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Felony murder conviction for robbery mastermind

Saturday, April 12, 2008
By MICHAELANGELO CONTE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

A Jersey City man faces 30 years to life in prison following his conviction yesterday in the death of a man who was fatally shot on a Heights street corner after being set up for a robbery.

"I'm thankful that the jury saw the evidence the way we did," said Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Moriarty, referring to the conviction of Michael Bonilla, 27, of Chestnut Street, on charges of felony murder, robbery, conspiracy to distribute marijuana, witness tampering and hindering apprehension.

Bonilla masterminded the Feb. 14, 2007 robbery in which Roberto Figueroa, 30, shot Ariel Cruz, 24, of Central Avenue, officials said.

Bonilla contacted Cruz, who sometimes sold marijuana, asking to buy some pot and they arranged to meet on Waverly Street just east of Baldwin Avenue, Moriarty said. Prosecutors allege Figueroa had Bonilla's gun and was to approach the pair and rob Cruz in a way that would make it appear Bonilla was not involved, Moriarty said.

But Cruz wouldn't hand over the marijuana and Figueroa allegedly opened fire, hitting him in the left hip and severing his femoral artery, Moriarty said, adding that Cruz died a short time later at the Jersey City Medical Center.

The robbery was planned in the presence of Bonilla's girlfriend, Moriarty said, adding that the jury found Bonilla guilty of witness tampering because he told her not to cooperate with police.

Figueroa is in jail awaiting trial, but no date has been set, Moriarty said. The getaway driver has pleaded guilty to armed robbery as an accomplice and faces up to 12 years in prison when sentenced, Moriarty said.

Testimony in Bonilla's trial began April 1 and the jury was out about a day and a half when the verdict was returned yesterday just before noon.

Bonilla is scheduled to be sentenced on June 6 before state Superior Court Judge Peter Vazquez.

Posted on: 2008/4/13 14:13
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Re: SHOT DEAD ON HEIGHTS STREET -- Neighbor: Durango pulled up, sped away
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Tankstelle,

Tell these fools what time it is.

Posted on: 2007/2/23 15:26
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Re: Two charged for gunning down a man in a robbery gone bad on a Heights street corner
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Quote:
It should have read, Two criminals killed a known drug dealer. It is believed that the criminals aim was to mug the dealer for his money and marijuana.

Who said there was no social impact on the use or sale of marijuana might want to talk to the dead guys family or the people who might have witnessed it and others that had to remove the body and cleaned the blood off the sidewalk?


It's not the use or sale that causes the impact, it's the prohibition of the use or sale.

Posted on: 2007/2/23 15:24
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Re: Two charged for gunning down a man in a robbery gone bad on a Heights street corner
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GrovePath wrote:
2 left him for dead, say cops

Friday, February 23, 2007
By MICHAELANGELO CONTE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Police have charged two criminals with murdering a Jersey City man who was gunned down on a Heights street corner, and investigators say they aimed to rob the victim of drugs and money.

Cruz, who is formerly of Bayonne, was on probation for a West New York drug conviction at the time of his death, and several bags of suspected marijuana were found on him after the shooting, DeFazio said.



It should have read, Two criminals killed a known drug dealer. It is believed that the criminals aim was to mug the dealer for his money and marijuana.

Who said there was no social impact on the use or sale of marijuana might want to talk to the dead guys family or the people who might have witnessed it and others that had to remove the body and clean the blood off the sidewalk?

Posted on: 2007/2/23 15:20
My humor is for the silent blue collar majority - If my posts offend, slander or you deem inappropriate and seek deletion, contact the webmaster for jurisdiction.
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Two charged for gunning down a man in a robbery gone bad on a Heights street corner
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2 left him for dead, say cops

Friday, February 23, 2007
By MICHAELANGELO CONTE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Police have charged two criminals with murdering a Jersey City man who was gunned down on a Heights street corner, and investigators say they aimed to rob the victim of drugs and money.

Michael Bonilla, 26, and Roberto Figueroa, 29, who live in the same building on Chestnut Street, were arrested Wednesday night, Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said yesterday.

They are charged with the felony murder of Ariel Cruz, 26, of Central Avenue near Congress Street, who was shot once in the hip on Waverly Street just east of Baldwin Avenue, DeFazio said today.

"A meeting was established and apparently it was a robbery that went bad, resulting in the victim being shot toward his posterior (of his hip)," DeFazio said. "He may have turned to run away."

Investigators believe a third man was involved in the crime, and they are working to positively identify him and track him down, DeFazio said.

Cruz, who is formerly of Bayonne, was on probation for a West New York drug conviction at the time of his death, and several bags of suspected marijuana were found on him after the shooting, DeFazio said.

A 9 mm shell casing was found at the crime scene, as was Cruz's cell phone. DeFazio said the cell phone played an important role in the investigation, as did interviews with witnesses and the defendants, DeFazio said. Cruz was rushed to the Jersey City Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead, DeFazio said.

At the time of the shooting Bonilla was out on $65,000 bail following his indictment on the charges of aggravated assault and drug possession with intent to distribute, officials said.

Meanwhile, Figueroa was on probation stemming from a conviction for attempted burglary and eluding police, officials said.

A witness to the aftermath of the shooting told The Jersey Journal that Cruz staggered and fell, got up again, then collapsed against a car and slid down to the ground. The witness said a gray Dodge Durango then traveled east across Baldwin Avenue on Waverly Street to the spot where the victim lay.

"He stopped, rolled down his window and looked at (Cruz), then he drove off fast," the resident said.

The prosecutor said investigators were not yet sure if the vehicle was involved in the shooting but said it's possible it was the getaway vehicle. Investigators are still studying a second cell phone found at the scene of the shooting.

Anyone with information on the murder is asked to call the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office's Homicide Squad at 201-915-1345.

Posted on: 2007/2/23 14:55
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Re: SHOT DEAD ON HEIGHTS STREET -- Neighbor: Durango pulled up, sped away
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At least DeFazio is busy - The cops must be taking a 'let the crooks kill each other attitude' to a positive policing approach. It's cheap and needs no resources!

Posted on: 2007/2/15 14:23
My humor is for the silent blue collar majority - If my posts offend, slander or you deem inappropriate and seek deletion, contact the webmaster for jurisdiction.
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SHOT DEAD ON HEIGHTS STREET -- Neighbor: Durango pulled up, sped away
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SHOT DEAD ON HEIGHTS STREET
Neighbor: Durango pulled up, sped away

Thursday, February 15, 2007
By MICHAELANGELO CONTE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

The fresh falling snow was stained with blood on a Jersey City Heights street corner where a man was fatally shot in the back before collapsing to the sidewalk in the early morning hours yesterday, officials said.

Ariel I. Cruz, 24, of Central Avenue near Congress Street, was fatally shot once in the rear portion of his hip at 12:37 a.m. on Waverly Street at Baldwin Avenue, Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said.

Cruz, who is formerly of Bayonne, was on probation for a West New York drug conviction at the time he died and several bags of suspected marijuana were found on him after the shooting, DeFazio said. A 9 mm shell casing was found at the scene of the shooting.

One neighborhood resident saw the grisly aftermath of the shooting. "I heard a gunshot and I went to the window and I saw a guy and thought he was drunk because he was staggering," said the 31-year-old man. "He fell and got back up and then he fell against a car and slid off onto the ground. That was it."

The resident said after the victim collapsed, a gray Dodge Durango traveled east across Baldwin Avenue on Waverly Street to the spot where the victim lay.

"He stopped, rolled down his window and looked at (Cruz), then he drove off fast," the resident said. "I called 911 and two ambulances and about seven police cars came. He was unconscious when they got here."

Cruz was rushed to the Jersey City Medical Center and pronounced dead at 3:15 a.m., DeFazio said.

Homicide detectives found the victim's cell phone at the scene of the murder, as well as another cell phone. They are trying to determine who the second cell phone belongs too, DeFazio said.

"I'm really in pain but I believe in a God that will make justice," said Cruz's mother, Vera Cruz, last night. "We don't know what he was doing or who he was meeting."

Vera Cruz said her son suffered from mood swings and depression. She said he went to special schools and once spent two weeks in the hospital after repeatedly telling his teachers he was going to kill himself. She said she had dinner with him last night and gave him clothing and chocolate for Valentine's Day before he went out.

"He was bringing up old memories," she said of their conversation. "He said he was going to die. He was acting funny."

On April 2, 2003, Cruz, then of Avenue C in Bayonne, was arrested in West New York on drug charges after he was found with cigars rolled with marijuana, officials said.

By daylight, snow had obscured all traces of the deadly violence, but the prosecutor said homicide investigators have leads and the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office's Homicide Squad at (201) 915-1345.

Posted on: 2007/2/15 10:03
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