Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on December 9, Merrill Spencer, 39, of Lakewood was sentenced to thirty years in New Jersey State Prison, as a result of his previously entered guilty plea to Aggravated Manslaughter.
Spencer pled guilty to Aggravated Manslaughter before Judge Gizinski on November 22, 2019, and has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since his arrest on June 13, 2016.
According to police, on June 13, 2016, Officers from the Lakewood Township Police Department responded to the area of Martin Luther King Boulevard in Lakewood. The Officers discovered the body of Johntel Thomas, 23, of Toms River, with an apparent gunshot wound to the chest lying on the sidewalk; Mr. Thomas was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
Detectives from the Lakewood Township Police Department and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit were able to locate and interview witnesses to the shooting, which led to the discovery of video surveillance footage identifying Spencer as the shooter. Spencer was subsequently arrested and charged accordingly.