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Point Beach Motel Guest Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter in Pool Death

The Ocean County Justice Complex, Toms River, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The Ocean County Justice Complex, Toms River, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

A woman who authorities say pushed another woman into a pool at a Point Pleasant Beach motel last summer has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Surveillance video showed Jelani Webster, 19, of Trenton, pushing Anijyah Price, 23, of Newark, into the pool of the Amethyst Beach Motel on Arnold Avenue on July 11, 2017, after hours of apparent drinking. Price died of drowning.

Webster had initially been charged with murder, but a judge dismissed the indictment last month, said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. As the state was preparing to seek an new indictment, the plea deal was struck.

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According to authorities, the two women and a man, Kyle Thompson, traveled to the motel July 10. After consuming alcohol “throughout the night,” a statement said, a 911 call was made by a motel guest reporting that someone was in the pool and not breathing at 5:20 a.m. the next morning.

Thompson told police that he did not see how Price ended up in the deep end of the pool, as he was walking back to their room when he heard a splash. But upon realizing Price was in danger, Thompson,who cannot swim, told Webster to knock on doors to get help. He climbed down one ladder and tried to reach in as he was still holding onto the ladder himself but was unable to reach Price.

Investigators later saw that surveillance video captured Webster pushing Price – who could not swim – into the deep end of the pool.

Webster faces 10 years in prison, of which she must serve 85 percent of her term. Sentencing by Superior Court Judge James Blaney is scheduled for June 29.

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