By: Yuritza Arroyo
Monmouth County authorities announced that a resident was sentenced for the homicide of his six-week-old baby girl.
Austin Meli, 26, of Wall Township, was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Friday.
Officials say the sentence is subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), which requires Meli to serve 85% of it prior to being eligible for parole.
This sentence will run consecutive to a sentence that Meli is already serving.
Meli previously pleaded guilty to first-degree Aggravated Manslaughter on February 10.
According to Wall Township Police, on March 9, 2019, officers responded to a residence in their jurisdiction regarding an unresponsive six-week-old infant.
Police say, at the time, the investigation determined that the infant had been in the immediate care of Meli, her father, at the time she was found to be unresponsive.
The child was pronounced dead at Ocean Medical Center.
According to authorities, the investigation revealed that Meli had asphyxiated the child in order to stop her from crying, resulting in the baby’s death.
Authorities say Meli is currently serving a 10-year New Jersey State Prison sentence for second-degree Aggravated Assault, two counts of second-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and fourth-degree Tampering with Physical Evidence for crimes committed upon another of his children.
“The defendant’s depraved actions caused this horrific tragedy and left other family members to mourn an immeasurable loss,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago stated.
“While it is impossible to make this family whole, this plea deal and the subsequent sentence provides justice and closure for the victim’s family for such an unspeakable and heinous act.”