FREEHOLD – A pair of Neptune Township teens have entered guilty pleas in the shooting death of a 10-year-old Asbury Park boy back in February, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Karon Council, 19, and co-defendant Jah-Del K. Birch, 17, both of Neptune Township, admitted their roles in the shooting death of 10-year-old Yovanni Banos-Merino before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Richard W. English. Council and Birch both pleaded guilty to first degree Aggravated Manslaughter and second degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose.
In accordance with the plea agreement with Council, there will be a sentencing recommendation of 25 years in a New Jersey state prison, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole.
In accordance with the plea agreement with Birch, there will be a sentencing recommendation of 10 years in a New Jersey state prison, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole. Both teens would also be under parole supervision for five years following their release from state prison.
Both plea agreements were made in consultation with the boy’s mother, who was also injured in the shooting incident
Sentencing is scheduled for January 11, 2019 before Judge English.
Asbury Park police responded to a 911 call around 10:40 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, reporting shots fired at a home in the 400 block of Ridge Avenue in the city. Police arrived to find the 10-year-old child and his 38-year-old mother had been struck with gunshot wounds. The child’s mother was treated and released for her injuries, however the child was pronounced deceased at 11:18 p.m.
A joint investigation conducted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Asbury Park Police Department, with assistance from Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and Neptune Township Police Department determined Council and Birch arrived at the home to target another occupant also present within the home but who was not injured during the incident. The boy was not the intended target of the shooting.
The case was handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Matthew Bogner and Joseph Cummings.
Birch is represented by Jeffrey Coghlan, Esq., of Freehold.
Council is represented by Paul Zager, Esq., of Red Bank.
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