FREEHOLD – Austin Meli, a 23-year-old Wall Twp. resident pled guilty today, February 10, 2022 to Aggravated Manslaughter for the death of his six-week-old baby girl, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey.
On March 9, 2019 Wall Township Police Department responded to a residence in their jurisdiction regarding an unresponsive six week old infant. At the time, the investigation determined that the six-week-old had been in the immediate care of her father, Austin Meli, at the time she was found to be unresponsive. The child was subsequently pronounced deceased at Ocean Medical Center, Brick, NJ. Subsequent investigation revealed additional details surrounding the infant’s death, and determined the manner of the baby’s death to be a homicide.
Meli is facing a sentence of 30 years New Jersey State Prison for the plea to Aggravated Manslaughter, first degree. That sentence is also subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA) which requires that he serve 85% prior to being eligible for parole. The State is also recommending that this sentence run consecutive to the sentence he is already serving.
Meli is currently serving a 10 year New Jersey State Prison sentence for Aggravated Assault, second degree, two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, second degree, and Tampering with Physical Evidence, fourth degree, charges which related to the physical abuse of his other child. Meli’s sentence for those charges is also subject to an 85% period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the No Early Release Act.
This case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Ellyn Rajfer and Margaret Koping.
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Meli is represented by Allison Friedman, Esq., of Freehold.