Prosecutors say the murder charge against a New Jersey man in his father’s death two years ago could carry a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Mark Austin and a codependent were originally charged with murder, conspiracy and counts of weapons in the death of Austin’s 55-year-old father, Mark, who was beaten to death at his Brick Township home in September 2019.
Ocean County prosecutors on Friday announced a charged indictment against Austin, 30, alleging that he obtained a commission of murder with the promise of payment or payment. Prosecutors said the aggravating factor, if proven, would require a life sentence without parole.
When the original charges were filed, “it was not known at the time that this was a homicide retaliation,” prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Austin’s codependent, 30-year-old Jere Melton of Salem City, pleaded guilty to murder in February 2020 and is awaiting sentencing.
According to The Asbury Park Press, Melton originally accused Austin, his former cellmate at a youth correctional facility, of threatening to kill him if he did not kill the victim, but he changed his story several times.
Melton told the judge during his plea hearing that Austin offered him $50,000 to kill, Austin’s defense attorneys Robert de Groot and Oleg Nekretin told the newspaper. Asked why he repeatedly changed his story, Melton told investigators he was terrified and had “mental health problems,” according to a transcript of a statement he gave to detectives in February. The newspaper told.
The newspaper reported that Melton told the court that Austin owed his father $5,000 to $8,000 in the dispute.
In October 2019, Austin’s defense attorneys accused officers of a “campaign of coercion and deceit to obtain false confessions and false statements” from Melton.
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