Toms River man indicted on 2 counts of carjacking

On Feb. 1 a Monmouth County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging Jamel China, 24, of Toms River, with two counts each of the following crimes: first-degree carjacking, first-degree armed robbery, second-degree kidnapping, third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, and third-degree terroristic threats in connection with two separate abductions which took place in June and July 2006.

According to a press release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, on June 25 a 20-year-old female resident of Manalapan reported that at about 12:30 a.m., while driving home, she stopped at a convenience store on Route 9 in Manalapan. As she re-entered her car, a man brandished a knife and forced the victim into the passenger seat of her car. The man then demanded that the victim take him to two separate banks, one in Howell and the other in Dover Township, Ocean County, to withdraw money from her accounts.

After the money was withdrawn, the man forced the victim to a nearby hotel in Dover, where she was held against her will. After a period of time, the man left the hotel with the victim, eventually ending up in the Freehold Raceway Mall parking lot, Freehold Township, where he exited the car and allowed the victim to leave physically unharmed, according to the press release.

Eleven days later, on July 6, a 39-year-old female resident of Marlboro reported that at about 4:45 p.m. she was about to enter her car after shopping at a strip mall on Route 9 in Marlboro. At that time, a man physically forced the victim into the passenger seat of her vehicle. The man then threatened to cut the victim’s throat if she did not follow his directions.

He then demanded that the victim drive him to her bank in Monroe Township, Middlesex County, where he forced her to remove money from a personal account. Soon after, he drove off in the victim’s car, abandoning her on a residential road, physically unharmed. The victim’s vehicle was eventually located at the same shopping center in Marlboro were the abduction occurred, according to the press release.

As a result of a joint investigation by the Manalapan and Marlboro police departments, with the assistance of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department, China was ultimately identified as the suspect and apprehended on Sept. 1.

If convicted of first-degree carjacking, China will face a maximum sentence of 30 years on each charge. If convicted of first-degree armed robbery, China will face a maximum sentence of 20 years on each charge. If convicted of second-degree kidnapping, China will face an additional 10-year sentence on each charge. Each of those sentences would be subject to the No Early Release Act, which would require China to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before he could be considered for release on parole.

On each third-degree crime, China will be exposed to a maximum five-year term, and on each fourth-degree weapons charge, a maximum of 18 months. China is currently being held in the Ocean County jail, Toms River, in lieu of $650,000 cash-only bail.

China’s next court appearance is to be held within 45 days before state Superior Court Judge Bette E. Uhrmacher, sitting in Freehold, where he will be formally arraigned on these charges.

Monmouth County Prosecutor Luis A. Valentin said, “The victims in these two cases demonstrated extraordinary courage in assisting the police. Their cooperation was essential in the apprehension of this defendant.”