Another gangster convicted in the 2009 killing of a school teacher has been sentenced to life in prison.

Ebenezer Byrd, 39, of Asbury Park, was the last defendant in the Jonelle Melton murder case to be sentenced, concluding a decade of investigations and prosecutions.

The teacher was in her Neptune City apartment, which the killers broke into believing it belonged to a drug dealer who they had targeted.

A Superior Court judge on Thursday handed down the life sentence for murder as well as two consecutive 20-year sentences for witness tampering. He also must finish out his sentence for an attempted murder conviction from an unrelated shooting in 2009.

Jerry J. Spraulding, 41, of Keansburg, was sentenced to life in prison on May 23. Gregory Jean-Baptiste, 30, of Asbury Park, was sentenced May 30 to life in prison plus 20 years.

Ebenezer Byrd was sentenced to life in prison for the 2009 murder of Jonelle Melton (Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office)

They were found guilty of first-degree felony murder, first-degree robbery, second-degree conspiracy, second-degree burglary, second-degree weapons offenses, among other charges.

In 2017, James M. Fair, a Bloods gang leader, was sentenced to more than 80 years in prison after he admitted plotting the botched burglary. He also was convicted of nearly 80 other gang-related offenses from 2017.

The four suspects were arrested in 2016. Spraulding was serving an eight-year prison sentence for a 2015 drug conviction when he was charged with Melton's murder.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email

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