Judge denies bail for Brick murder suspect

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Mark J.. Austin was denied bail by Ocean County Superior Criminal Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels on Wednesday, and will remain detained in custody at the Ocean County Jail pending trial. PHOTO BY DANIELLA HEMINGHAUS

TOMS RIVER – Mark J. Austin, who is charged with the murder of his father, was denied bail by Ocean County Superior Criminal Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels on Wednesday, and will remain detained in custody at the Ocean County Jail until his pending trial

Mr. Austin and alleged accomplice Jeray Melton are charged with the murder of his father, Mark Richard Austin, by beating him to death with a baseball bat at his Brick Township home on Sept. 7.

At the previous detention hearing Oct. 3, both the state, represented by Prosecutor Michael Weatherstone, and Mr. Austin’s attorney Robert Degroot, argued to Judge Daniels their reasons for detention or release.

Mr. Melton waived his right to a detention hearing on Sept. 27.

Mr. Degroot alleged that police had used “trickery” when interviewing Mr. Melton, of Salem, when they told Mr. Melton that Mr. Austin had already given him up. Mr. Weatherstone acknowledged what the police did, but asserted that it still revealed a true testimony from Mr. Melton. Mr. Melton told police that Mr. Austin had forced him to murder the decedent with a bat at gunpoint.

Given the nature of the crime, murder in the first degree, and his past criminal history of eluding the police and a second-degree weapons charge, Mr. Weatherstone argued the state has enough evidence to keep Mr. Austin detained. On Wednesday, Judge Daniels agreed.

“This court will be granting the state’s motion for pretrial detention in this matter,” Judge Daniels said Wednesday morning.

According to a detailed eight-page affidavit of probable cause filed by the prosecutor’s office,  the body of 55-year-old Mark Richard Austin was found by police on Sept. 7 in a room that had “blood spattered on the wall and ceiling,” in the Acorn Drive home where he lay on a sofa, “unresponsive” and “covered in blankets.” 

A baseball bat covered in blood and hair was found on the scene.

Mr. Austin and Mr. Melton were arrested on Sept. 13 following an investigation by several local and county police departments.

 

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