Brick, NJ man charged with murder for account in the brutal death of his father
TOMS RIVER – Prosecutors say a new for-hire murder charge against a New Jersey man in his father’s death two years ago could result in a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Mark Austin and a co-accused were originally charged with murder, conspiracy and weapons counts in the death of Austin’s father, Mark, 55, who was found beaten to death at his home in Brick Township in September 2019.
Ocean County prosecutors on Friday announced a replacement indictment against Austin, 30, alleging he had the murder committed with payment or a promise to pay.
Prosecutors said this aggravating factor, if proven, would require the imposition of a life sentence without parole.
When the initial charges were laid, “it was not known at the time that this was a vicarious murder situation,” prosecutors said.
Austin co-accused Jeray Melton, 30, of Salem City, pleaded guilty in February 2020 to aggravated manslaughter and is awaiting conviction, prosecutors said.
Melton initially alleged that Austin, his former cellmate at a juvenile correctional facility, threatened to kill him if he did not kill the victim, but he changed his story several times, according to The Asbury Park Press.
Melton told the judge during his plea hearing that Austin offered him $ 50,000 for the murder, Austin defense attorneys Robert De Groot and Oleg Nekretin told the newspaper.
When asked why he changed his story multiple times, Melton told investigators he was scared and had “mental health issues,” according to a transcript of a statement he made. made to detectives in February, the newspaper reported.
Melton told the court the dispute involved a debt between $ 5,000 and $ 8,000 owed by Austin to his father, the newspaper reported.
Austin defense attorneys in October 2019 accused authorities of a “campaign of coercion and trickery to obtain false confessions and a false statement” from Melton.
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