FREEHOLD – Three Asbury Park men have been charged in connection with the fatal shooting of a 27-year old man on Thanksgiving Eve 2017 in the same town, announced Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
On Tuesday, the Asbury Park Police Department charged Steven Taylor, 36, Michael Taylor, 33, and Avery Hopes, 23, all of Asbury Park, New Jersey, with Conspiracy, Murder, Possession of a Firearm for an Unlawful Purpose, and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon. Steven and Michael Taylor were additionally charged with Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons. The charges stem from a shooting that occurred on November 22, 2017, in the area of 150 Prospect Avenue in Asbury Park.
On Wednesday, November 22, 2017 at approximately 10:32 p.m., the Asbury Park Police Department responded to the area of 150 Prospect Avenue in Asbury Park after hearing the sound of gunshots. Officers quickly arrived and located the victim, Denzel Morgan-Hicks, 27, of Barnegat, New Jersey, in the driver’s side front seat of a 2017 Ford Expedition, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Asbury Park Fire Department EMS and MONOC paramedics also responded, but the victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
Detectives from the Asbury Park Police Department and Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office arrived and began an investigation. During the course of the investigation, Avery Hopes, as well as brothers Steven Taylor and Michael Taylor, were identified as three of the individuals responsible for Morgan-Hicks’ death. All three men remain detained in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution pending a First Appearance in Superior Court on Wednesday, June 13.
If convicted of Murder, the three men face a minimum sentence of 30 years in a New Jersey state prison without parole, and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. If convicted of Conspiracy, they face a sentence of up to 20 years in State Prison. A conviction for either Murder or Conspiracy is subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” requiring the men to serve 85 percent of any sentence imposed in excess of 30 years before becoming eligible for release on parole. They would also be under parole supervision for five years if released from state prison.
If convicted of Possession of a Firearm for an Unlawful Purpose, the maximum potential sentence is a State Prison term of 10 years, and pursuant to the “Graves Act” there is a mandatory period of parole ineligibility of one half of the custodial sentence imposed, or 42 months, whichever is greater. If convicted of Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, both Taylor brothers faces up to 20 years in State Prison, which is also subject to the Graves Act mandatory period of parole ineligibility of one half of the custodial sentence imposed, while Hopes faces a State Prison term of 10 years if convicted of that offense. If convicted of Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons, the Taylor brothers face up to 10 years in state prison with a five-year mandatory period of parole ineligibility.
Despite the arrest of these three men, the investigation into the shooting continues. The investigation is being led by Detective Patrick Petruzziello of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Bureau and Detective Joe Leon of the Asbury Park Police Department. Anyone with additional information about this shooting is urged to call Detective Petruzziello at 1-800-533-7443 or Detective Leon at 732-774-1300.
The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Bogner.
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.