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Brick Man Indicted in Thanksgiving Eve Murder

Handcuffs (Shorebeat File Photo/ banspy/ Flickr

Handcuffs (Shorebeat File Photo/ banspy/ Flickr)

A Brick Township man is one of three people to be indicted in the 2017 murder of a Barnegat man who was shot the night before Thanksgiving.

Vernon Sanders, 34, of Brick, Steven J. Taylor, 36, and Avery Hopes, 23, both of Asbury Park, are named in the indictment charging each of them with first degree conspiracy to commit murder, first degree murder and second degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Additionally, Sanders and Hopes are charged with second degree unlawful possession of a weapon. Sanders and Taylor are also charged with second degree certain persons not to possess weapons.

According to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, the charges stem from a shooting that occurred on November 22, 2017, in the area of 150 Prospect Avenue in Asbury Park. Asbury Park police went to the address after hearing the sound of gunshots at approximately 10:32 p.m., a statement said. Officers quickly arrived and located the victim, Denzel Morgan-Hicks, 27, of Barnegat, in the driver’s side front seat of a 2017 Ford Expedition, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.  Asbury Park Fire Department Emergency Medical Services and MONOC paramedics also responded, but the victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

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A joint investigation by detectives from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Asbury Park Police Department identified Sanders, Taylor and Hopes as the individuals responsible for Morgan-Hicks’ death. The motive for the alleged crime was not divulged. 

The trio face life imprisonment without parole if convicted of first degree murder. The conspiracy charge carries a 20 year sentence.

Photos of the suspects were not released.

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