ASBURY PARK — The 16-year-old charged in connection with the murder of 10-year-old Yovanni Banos-Merino last February will face trial as an adult.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said the teen, identified as Jah-Del Birch, will make his first appearance in Superior Court on Thursday to face charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a handgun and aggravated assault.

Yovanni was shot and killed at his home on Ridge Avenue but was not the intended target, according to prosecutors. His mother, Lilia Merino, 38, was also shot but survived.

Birch was arrested at Neptune High School the day after the homicide.

Karon Council, 18, was arrested in Pompano Beach, Florida, and returned back to New Jersey to face similar charges as Birch.

According to the criminal complaint against Council, he and Birch knocked on the door of the downstairs apartment looking for a particular person.

After being told the person was not there, Council walked to the street, pulled a gun out of his waistband and fired at the house.

"The prosecutor's office conducted a comprehensive analysis, considering all of the factors set forth in the juvenile waiver statute, including but not limited to the defendant's age, the crimes with which he has been charged, and input from the victim's family," the Prosecutor's Office explained in a statement about Birch's charges. "That analysis was reviewed by a Family Court judge, who granted the state's motion to waive the defendant to Superior Court."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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