October 8, 2021
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on October 7, 2021, a superseding Indictment was returned against Mark J. Austin, 30, of Brick Township, charging him with Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d, and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d, relative to the death of his father, Mark Richard Austin, in Brick Township on September 7, 2019. The superseding Indictment charges that Austin procured the commission of the murder of his father by payment or promise of payment of anything of monetary value, an aggravating factor which – if proven beyond a reasonable doubt at the time of trial – requires that Austin be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole eligibility. Austin and his co-defendant, Jeray Melton, 30, of Salem City, were originally indicted in connection with the murder of the victim on December 3, 2019; it was not known at that time that this was a murder for hire situation.
On Saturday, September 7, 2019, Officers of the Brick Township Police were summoned to a residence on Acorn Drive and discovered the victim’s body. At that time, it was discovered that the victim had been beaten to death. Following a thorough and extensive investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Major Crime Unit, Brick Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, it was determined that Austin and Melton had conspired to kill the victim. Mark J. Austin and Jeray Melton were charged accordingly and taken into custody on September 13, 2019, and have been incarcerated since that date.
Subsequent investigation determined that Austin agreed to pay Melton a sum of money in exchange for killing Mark Richard Austin. On February 25, 2020, Melton pled guilty to Aggravated Manslaughter in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4a before the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C. Melton is currently lodged in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution pending sentencing. Austin remains in in the Ocean County Jail awaiting trial.
Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Chief Trial Attorney Michael Weatherstone and Assistant Prosecutor Kimberly Carr who are handling the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Unit, Brick Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Brick Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Salem County Prosecutor’s Office, Salem City Police Department, New Jersey State Police Major Crime Unit, New Jersey State Police TEAMS Unit, New Jersey Department of Corrections, Port Authority Police of New York and New Jersey, Manchester Township Police Department, Millville Police Department, Bayonne Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their collective and cooperative efforts in connection with this investigation.
The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.