Witness to Pace Students Murder Was Beaten, Says DA
By Julie Shapiro | October 20, 2010 4:49pm | Updated on October 21, 2010 5:55am
By Julie Shapiro DNA info Reporter/Producer
FINANCIAL DISTRICT: Raymond Rizzo did not fire the gun that killed a 21-year-old Pace University student last month, but he did threaten and beat an eyewitness to the crime, the Manhattan District Attorney said Wednesday.
Rizzo, 30, a Brooklyn resident, was arraigned on murder in the second degree over the slaying of Max Moreno in his luxury apartment at 2 Gold St. on Sept. 29.
On the night of the crime, Rizzo and Randy Colon, 30, of the East Village, allegedly burst into Moreno's apartment shortly after Moreno sold marijuana to a couple, police said.
Colon was "brandishing a gun" and robbed Moreno, Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Sittnick said Wednesday at Rizzoa's arraignment.
"When Mr. Moreno put up a fight, [Colon] shot and killed him," Sittnick said.
Rizzo then allegedly turned to another man in the apartment who witnessed the crime and told him "he was going to die," Sittnick said.
The witness escaped the apartment, but Rizzo allegedly chased him and beat him using a metal box he had stolen from Moreno, Sittnick said.
Rizzo is charged with murder in the second degree, burglary, robbery, criminal possession of a weapon and assault.
Sittnick said Rizzo had confessed to threatening and beating the witness, who has identified both Rizzo and Colon.
Colon is currently in custody in Pennsylvania and is being extradited to New York, police said.
Frank Rothman, Rizzoa's lawyer, said Rizzo was not guilty of murder because he did not plan what happened in advance.
"If he was there, for argumentae's sake, to buy weed, and he had no knowledge of what was about to go down, heâ€™s not on the hook," Rothman said after the arraignment.
Rizzo has lived in New York City all his life and has no prior record, Rothman said.
Rizzo did have an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Brooklyn for aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, a spokesman for the Brooklyn District attorney said.
Rizzo, who was wearing a black Eagles jacket and jeans at Wednesday's arraignment, was unemployed at the time of the crime and "had not worked in a while," Rothman said.
Several of Rizzoa's relatives attended the arraignment but declined to speak to reporters afterward.
Rizzoa's next court date is Oct. 22.