The girlfriend of a drug dealer shot to death in 1990 testified that his accused killer and baby mama, Zunilda Rosario, threatened to murder her and her unborn son with the victim just months earlier.
“She said that she would kill the baby, she would kill me and that no one was going to have him if it wasn’t her,” recalled Elizabeth Matos, who was pregnant with victim Juan Deleon’s son at the time.
It was August 1989 and Rosario showed up at Matos and Deleon’s new apartment. Deleon was outside fighting with Rosario while Matos peered down from an upstairs window.
“She was outside yelling and arguing with him and screaming,” recalled Matos, who now works as a TSA agent and lives in NJ. “She kept looking up toward me at the window, and she was saying to Juan if he was not hers, he would not be anyone’s.”
Prosecutors say that Rosario, then 21, made good on her promise Feb. 11, 1999, and pumped nine bullets into his face, arms and torso in the lobby of a Harlem building where he and his crew sold drugs.
Deleon, 20, already had a daughter with Rosario, 21, when he fell in love with Matos, a childhood friend he ran into while on vacation in the Dominican Republic. When they returned from the trip in 1988, she moved in with Deleon and his family.
“It was a good relationship, we got along very well,” she said.
A few weeks later, Rosario barged into the apartment when Deleon wasn’t home, demanding money for her daughter.
She kept threatening to take a large framed picture of their daughter from his room if he didn’t hand over some cash.
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“Why don’t you just take the picture?” Matos recalled telling her. “She said, ‘Girl, you do not know what you’re getting yourself into. If you don’t get up out of my face, I will choke you.’ ”
Rosario, whose lawyers says she was six months pregnant with Deleon’s second daughter at the time, allegedly lunged at her, and the two romantic rivals got into a vicious fistfight.
Matos said Rosario raced to the kitchen, retrieved an 8-inch kitchen knife and stabbed her in the forearm as she put her hands over her face to protect herself. Matos showed jurors the scar.
On cross-examination, defense lawyer Frank Rothman asked about Rosario’s second child with Deleon.
“He got her pregnant while he was with you?” asked Rothman. “I wasn’t aware of that,” she replied.
Matos admitted that Deleon was a drug dealer who worked for a man named Marvin Romero. After Deleon’s slaying, Matos had a baby with Romero.
Deleon’s case went cold and Rosario eventually moved to Providence, RI, where she raised her daughters, worked as a school bus driver and baked wedding cakes for extra cash.
In 2016, nearly three decades after Deleon was found riddled with bullets, an old witness came forward with new information and Rosario was arrested.
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