FREEHOLD, NJ - On August 10, 2012, the Honorable Ronald Reisner, J.S.C., sentenced Antonio Suarez-Perez, a/k/a "Mingo," 24, of Red Bank, N.J., to consecutive life sentences without the possibility for parole, in connection with the February 10, 2009, shooting deaths of Sidney Wakefield, 26, of Long Branch, N.J., and Joseph Fann, 23, of Middletown, N.J.
Suarez-Perez was tried before a Monmouth County petit jury from March 21, 2012 through May 24, 2012. The jury found Suarez-Perez guilty of two counts of Murder, both first degree crimes, Possession of a Handgun for an Unlawful Purpose, a second degree crime, Unlawful Possession of a Handgun, also a second degree crime and Tampering with Physical Evidence by throwing a gun out of a car, a fourth degree crime. The jury also found that Suarez-Perez committed these murders by his “own hand” and the existence of other aggravating factors, which legally required the Court to impose a sentence of life in prison without the possibility for parole.
As the result of this conviction, Suarez-Perez has been housed at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution without bail.
The investigation into this matter began at 1:35 a.m., on February 10, 2009, when officers from the Red Bank Police Department were dispatched to the vicinity of Locust Avenue in Red Bank, N.J., as a result of multiple "911" telephone calls. Upon arrival at Locust Avenue the responding police officers discovered Mr. Fann’s body inside of a car. Police discovered Mr. Wakefield’s body, nearby on the corner of Locust Avenue and Leighton Place. Both men were deceased and appeared to have sustained gunshot wounds. The vehicle that Fann's body was found in was registered to Mr. Wakefield.
Detectives from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Red Bank Police Department immediately commenced a joint investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the two men. One of the responding Red Bank police officers, Patrolman James DePonte, observed a dark colored Audi containing 3 individuals departing the area where the two men were found as he responded to the scene. After securing the scene and awaiting the arrival of other officers, Patrolman DePonte went in search of the dark colored Audi. Within minutes, Patrolman DePonte located the dark colored Audi traveling northbound on Route 35 in the vicinity of Twinbrooks Avenue in Middletown Township. A motor vehicle stop of the Audi was conducted with the assistance of the Middletown Township Police Department. The Audi contained three occupants, Suarez-Perez, Eric Figueras, 28, of Red Bank, New Jersey, and Samson Hearn, 30, of Fair Haven, New Jersey. The three men were transported to the Red Bank Police Department and ultimately charged for their respective roles in the double homicide.
The investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Sidney Wakefield and Joseph Fann revealed that they, Suarez-Perez, Figueras and Hearn all knew one another, and that, during the evening of February 9, 2009, Wakefield and Fann had a chance encounter with Suarez-Perez, Figueras and Hearn at a local gas station. The investigation further revealed that, after the chance meeting, Suarez-Perez confronted the two victims in the area of Locust Avenue and shot both to death with a handgun. The gun was recovered in the area of the intersection of Twinbrooks Avenue and Route 35 in Middletown by a concerned citizen and turned into the police.
Hearn and Figueras previously pled guilty to second degree Hindering the Apprehension of Suarez-Perez and received 5 years probation, each.
The State was represented by Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Marc C. LeMieux, Director of Investigations of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. Suarez-Perez was represented by Allison Tucker, Esquire, of Freehold, N.J.