Teens Plead Guilty To Killing Of Asbury Park Boy

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FREEHOLD – Two Neptune Township teens have pleaded guilty in the shooting death of a 10-year-old Asbury Park boy.

Karon Council, 19, and co-defendant Jah-Del K. Birch, 17, both pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated manslaughter and second-degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose in the shooting death of Yovanni Banos-Merino. They entered their pleas before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Richard W. English. The mother of the child was consulted in making these plea deals.

They will be sentenced Jan. 11.

Council will have to serve at least 85 percent the State’s recommended 25-year prison sentence. The State is looking for 10 years for Birch, who will also have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. Both will be required to be under parole supervision for five years after release.

Authorities said Council and Birch were targeting another occupant of a home on the 400 block of Ridge Avenue in Asbury Park at 10:40 p.m. Feb. 21, 2018. Police responded to a 911 call to find Yovanni and his 38-year-old mother shot. The woman was treated and released, but Yovanni succumbed to his wounds and was pronounced dead at 11:18 p.m.

The investigation was conducted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Asbury Park Police Department, with assistance from Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and Neptune Township Police Department.

The case was handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Matthew Bogner and Joseph Cummings.

Birch is represented by Jeffrey Coghlan, Esq., of Freehold.

Council is represented by Paul Zager, Esq., of Red Bank.