Family of Woman Murdered in Baruch Houses Sues City

Jomali Morales.
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.