Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Man Found Guilty on All Charges for Murder in Mahanoy City


The verdict is on for the murder of a Hazleton man in Mahanoy City in October of 2021.

The trial of Santanio Pierre Malone began Monday for the murder of Juan Carolos Romero, 33, of Hazleton, on October 21, 2021, outside the Rmusic21 Lounge also known as the Hookah Lounge, located in the 100 block of East Centre Street in Mahanoy City.

Malone was facing charges for Murder in the First Degree, Murder in the Third Degree, multiple charges of Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, and recklessly endangering another person.

Malone, then believed to have lived in Shenandoah, fled the incident and was later taken into custody on January 27th, 2022, in Tennessee.

During Day 1 of the trial, jurors heard the 911 call that came in a 2:49am as Romero was gunned down.  They also watched video of the incident that was recorded from a nearby home across the street as well as video from the vestibule of the Hookah Lounge.

Also testifying was Alorfi Bladimir Ramirez, of Hazle Township, the other victim in the shooting, who is now bound to a wheelchair after being shot 4 times that night by Malone.

Ramirez was able to identify Malone from the incident and told the story of how the shooting started when an argument between Malone and Romero escalated from a beer bottle being thrown and broken on the sidewalk.

Tuesday, the jurors heard from the forensic pathologist from Dauphin County, Dr. Wayne Ross.

Dr. Ross had performed the autopsy on Romero.  Ross explained that Romero had died from one of the gunshots that went through his arm and into his chest cavity.  The bullet pierced both of Romero's lungs as well as his heart.

They also heard from Dr. Abigail Coots, a trauma doctor from the Reading Hospital where Alorfi Bladimir Ramirez was treated for his injuries during the shooting.

Schuylkill County Assistant District Attorney Thomas P. Pellish and Julie D. Werdt represented the prosecution on the trial.

Closing arguments were Wednesday morning with the case being handed over to jurors just before lunchtime.

After deliberating, the jury found Malone guilty on all charges.

President Judge Jacqueline L. Russell presided over the case.