Three arrested in Red Bank murders

February 11, 2009 7:21:49 PM PST
A chance encounter between two groups of acquaintances at a Red Bank gas station this week led to two of them being fatally shot and the other three facing two counts of felony murder and one count of armed robbery. Antonio Suarez-Perez, 21, and Eric Figueras, 25, both of Red Bank, and Samson Hearn, 26, of Fair Haven, made initial court appearances Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Ira E. Kriezman.

They are accused in the deaths of Joseph Fann, 23, of Middletown, and Sidney Wakefield, 26, of Long Branch.

Suarez-Perez, the alleged gunman, was also charged with one count of tampering with physical evidence and a weapons possession charge, while Figueras and Hearn were also charged with weapon offenses, hindering apprehension and obstruction.

County Prosecutor Luis A. Valentin said the men - who all knew each other - were riding in two cars when they happened upon each other at a gas station late Monday night. About two hours later, Valentin said Suarez-Perez pulled a gun on the victims who were sitting Wakefield's car while Hearn and Figueras waited in another car nearby.

Before fleeing the area together, Valentin said the suspects tried to take an undisclosed amount of cocaine from at least one of the victims.

Red Bank police received several 911 calls about the shooting early Tuesday, and Patrolman James DePonte saw the vehicle with the three suspects inside leaving the scene as he arrived. After finding the bodies, DePonte began to search for the vehicle and soon found it about five miles away on Route 35 in Middletown.

Officers later recovered a semiautomatic handgun not far from where the vehicle was stopped.

Wakefield was shot at least five times as he fled the car, police said.

Suarez-Perez was being held on $3.37 million bail, and Hearn and Figueras were each being held on $2 million bail.

An after-hours message left Wednesday for the county public defender's office, which represented Suarez-Perez at Wednesday's hearing and was expected to take over representation of the other two men, was not immediately returned.


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