Life Sentence For 2009 Murder Of Teacher

Gregory A. Jean-Baptiste (Photo courtesy Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office)

  FREEHOLD – An Asbury Park man was sentenced to life for the murder of Red Bank Middle School teacher Jonelle Melton in 2009, police reported.

  Gregory A. Jean-Baptiste, 30, was given the life sentence plus 20 years for witness tampering, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. The terms will run consecutively.

  Jean-Baptiste, along with Ebenezer Byrd, 39, of Asbury Park, and Jerry J. Spraulding, 41, of Keansburg, were each found guilty on all counts, on March 12, 2019, in connection with the Sept. 14, 2009 murder of 33-year-old Melton, who was found dead in her Neptune City apartment.

  The three men were found guilty of first degree Felony Murder, first degree Robbery, second degree Conspiracy, second degree Burglary, second degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and second degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon. Additionally, Byrd and Jean-Baptiste were found guilty of first degree Witness Tampering. Byrd and Spraulding convicted of second degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons due to prior convictions involving a weapon.

  Spraulding was sentenced to life in prison on May 23, 2019 and Byrd is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Oxley on June 6.

  As a result of an investigation, detectives learned that Byrd, Jean-Baptiste, Spraulding, and a fourth defendant James Fair planned to burglarize a specific apartment in the Brighton Arms complex. However, they broke into the wrong apartment.

  Fair is serving an 82-year prison term in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton as part of a long list of crimes 78 crimes he was convicted of committing in the summer of 2017. Following that conviction, he pleaded guilty on Nov. 2, 2017 to his role in the murder of Jonelle Melton. He was sentenced by Judge Oxley on Dec. 21, 2017 and is eligible for release no earlier than Jan. 3, 2065.

  A release from the prosecutor’s office described Melton as a beloved teacher at Red Bank Middle School, who was active in a number of local groups and school activities.