An 18-year old Long Branch man will stand trial on charges of armed robbery and murder related to two incidents that occurred within a 24-hour period in September, 2013, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced Monday.
In the seven-count indictment returned by a Monmouth County grand jury Monday, Dante Strong, 18, is charged with two counts of first degree armed robbery, second degree unlawful possession of a weapon and second degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
The charges stem from a Sept. 20, 2013 incident in the area of Central and Ellis avenues, in Long Branch. According to investigators, Strong approached two people seated in a car around 4:50 a.m. He pointed a handgun at the head of one of the vehicle occupants and threatened to shoot him while demanding money from both of the occupants.
Long Branch police officers arrived at the scene and during the course of their investigation identified Strong as the gunman. He was arrested for the robbery incident on Oct. 3, 2013.
Strong is also charged in that same indictment with one count each of first degree murder, second degree unlawful possession of a weapon and second degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. These charges are related to a shooting incident that occurred less than 24 hours after the armed robbery.
Around 2:29 a.m. on Sept. 21, 2013, officers from the Long Branch Police Department were in the area of Central Avenue and Liberty Street when they responded to the sounds of gunfire and were flagged down by several people at 135 Liberty Street. There the officers found the victim, Adrian Anderson, 23, on the front porch unconscious and bleeding from several gunshot wounds, according to the Prosecutor's Office. Anderson was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune Township, where he died at 5:22 a.m.
A joint investigation into the shooting was launched by the Long Branch Police Department and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office leading to charges of murder and weapons offenses being filed against Strong on Nov. 7, 2013.
Since his arrest on Oct. 3, 2013, Strong has been held at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, Freehold Township, on $1,450,000 cash only bail, as set by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Richard W. English, J.S.C.
If convicted of murder, Strong faces a sentence of 30 years to life in a New Jersey state prison, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (“NERA”). “NERA” requires that a defendant serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed in excess of 30 years prior to becoming eligible for parole. He also faces a maximum sentence of 20 years on each of the robbery charges, also subject to the provisions of “NERA.”
Strong also faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on each of the weapons charges, subject to a mandatory period of parole ineligibility, as set by the sentencing judge.
The next court proceeding will be an arraignment, which is the formal presentation of the indictment to the defendant. This will be scheduled within the next 45 days.
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and State law.
This case is being prosecuted by Thomas C. Huth, Director of the Office’s Major Crimes Bureau and Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Bogner.
Strong is represented by Robert Gaynor, Esq. of Freehold.