FREEHOLD – The two men responsible for an execution-style shooting that left a young man and a woman dead in Neptune Township a little less than two years ago have been sentenced for their roles in the crime, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Monday.

Gabriel J. Braithwaite, 21, of Keansburg and 24-year-old Jeron D. Dearin of the Cliffwood section of Aberdeen were sentenced to 40 and 5 years in state prison, respectively, in accordance with terms set down by Monmouth County Assignment Judge Marc C. Lemieux during a hearing held Friday afternoon. A total of 85 percent of both terms must be served before the possibility of parole, under the provisions of New Jersey’s No Early Release Act (NERA).

Shortly before 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday, January 19, 2022, members of the Neptune Township Police Department responded to the 1300 block of Washington Avenue on a report of a shooting. At that location, officers found the two victims, 18-year-old Samore Edwards of Plainfield and 19-year-old Isaiah Williams of New Brunswick, in a parked vehicle; Edwards was subsequently pronounced deceased at the scene, while Williams was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, where he was pronounced deceased shortly after arrival.

An intensive investigation involving members of the MCPO Major Crimes Bureau, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, the Neptune Township Police Department, and the Keansburg Police Department determined that Dearin drove Braithwaite, his cousin, from Keansburg to the scene of the shooting and back, whereas Braithwaite was the one who pulled the trigger.  

The pair ultimately were arrested without incident less than a month after the shooting and have remained in custody at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) since. During a hearing held in July 2023, Braithwaite pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree Murder and a related weapons offense, while Dearin admitted to second-degree Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Assault.

The pleas were negotiated and agreed to only after members of the Prosecutor’s Office consulted with the families of Edwards and Williams.

Several members of those families, some donning clothing and holding signs depicting images of their lost loved ones, read statements into the record on Friday, each recalling gregarious young adults who were eager to begin pursuing personal goals when their lives were suddenly cut short.

“The utterly senseless and callous nature of this crime can’t be overstated – it was an ambush of two unarmed individuals sitting in a car together who had nowhere to escape to and no time to react,” Prosecutor Santiago said. “While the conclusion of this criminal matter can’t bring them back, we hope it offers the victims’ loved ones some sense of solace and also serves as an unambiguous message to those who contribute to the scourge of gun violence in Monmouth County.”

 This matter was prosecuted by MCPO Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Bogner, Director of the Major Crimes Bureau, along with Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan. Braithwaite was represented by Joshua M. Hood, Esq., while Dearin was represented by Carlos Diaz-Cobo, Esq., both attorneys with an office in Freehold.