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Family of Woman Murdered in Baruch Houses Sues City

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Jomali Morales

The family of Jomali Morales, the woman violently killed in the Baruch Houses last winter, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, seeking unspecified damages.

Morales’ body was found in an elevator at Baruch February 12th. She had been stabbed 20 times. A 19-year old resident of the city’s largest public housing complex, Markeece Dunning, was arrested and charged with second degree murder.  The 42-year old woman, who was born and raised on the Lower East Side, had been out in the neighborhood, celebrating her birthday the night of the killing.

According to the Post, Morales’ mother, Petra Montanez (also known as Petra Vitale), filed the civil lawsuit against the New York City Housing Authority in Manhattan Supreme Court.

The suit alleges the city knew the Baruch Houses were “infested with criminals” but neglected to evict tenants with “vicious properties, violent outbreaks and prior violent acts, criminal backgrounds, gang affiliations and criminal behavior,”

Morales did not live in Baruch. She had been staying temporarily with her mother, a Grand Street resident. Dunning was arrested one month after the murder. He allegedly confessed to the crime. He had been arrested on at least 11 previous occasions for drug possession, trespassing and gang assault, among other charges.  Dunning has pleaded not guilty to the charges in the Morales case.  He’s due back in court in October.
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  1. Unfortunately she is not the first person to be killed in New York City, however if she was not a tenant the question remains what and why was she there? 

    It is a shameful lawsuit considering how many people get assaulted in the properties where they live.  Murders in NYCHA are not new but neither is murder in NYC.

    Sadly this woman died in the wrong place because she was there at the wrong time.  NYC should not bare the brunt of a lawsuit because the victims lacked judgement.

    If this woman was raised on the Lower East Side then she knew better about the area than someone from out of town. Even the people who live in “safe” areas (if there is such places) are out and about without some trepidation. I, as a former tenant of the Baruch Houses whose family expereince crime first hand, I would not go anywhere in NYC without trepidation.  I lived and learned.

  2. “victims lacked judgement”……were you there?  do you know wtf you’re talking about.  you must live your life in fear…what a cowardly way to live.

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