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Lakewood Man Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Manslaughter in Shooting Death

Merrill Spencer (Photo: OCPO)

Merrill Spencer (Photo: OCPO)

A Lakewood man has entered a guilty plea in the killing of another Lakewood man in 2016.

Merrill Spencer, 38, of Lakewood, pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated manslaughter in the shooting death of Johntel Thomas, 23, of Lakewood. Spencer had previous been indicted on murder and weapons charges. The state will recommend Spencer serve a 30 year prison sentence when the case is heard by Superior Court Judge Rochelle Gizinski in January.

The case stems from a shooting on June 13, 2016, when officers from the Lakewood Township Police Department were called to the area of Martin Luther King Boulevard there. The officers discovered the body of a 23-year-old male victim with an apparent gunshot wound to the chest lying on the sidewalk; he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

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Lakewood and county detectives were able to locate and interview witnesses to the shooting, which then led to the discovery of video surveillance footage depicting Spencer as the shooter.  Spencer was subsequently arrested and charged with causing the victim’s death.