Lakewood Man Will Spend 30 Years In Prison For 2016 Shooting

An Ocean County man was formally sentenced to prison time for aggravated manslaughter, according to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer.

Merrill Spencer, 39, of Lakewood Township has been sentenced to 30 years in New Jersey State Prison after Spencer shot Johntel Thomas, 23, of Toms River back in June of 2016.

Thomas was found laying on the sidewalk by police officers on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Lakewood with a gunshot wound to his chest. Thomas was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later.

After interviewing witnesses and reviewing surveillance footage, Spencer was named the prime suspect in the investigation. Spencer plead guilty to shooting Thomas in November of 2019.

Spencer’s sentence is also subject to the No Early Release Act, meaning that he must serve at least 85% or 25.5 years behind bars before he is eligible for parole.


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