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Two Newark Residents Plead Guilty to Fatal Shooting of Baltimore Man in Carteret

One Defendant Looking at 25 Years in State Prison, The Other Faces 10-Year Sentence
Middlesex County Court
Middlesex County Courthouse Charlie Kratovil

CARTERET, NJ--Two men pleaded guilty to charges related to the shooting death of a Maryland resident that took place in Carteret in 2013, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

Daniel Gillens, a 24-year-old Newark resident, pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated manslaughter, admitting he shot and killed 26-year-old Deonte J. Shackleford while he was in New Jersey visiting relatives on April 5, 2013, according to the prosecutor's statement.

Gillens was sentenced to 25 years in state prison as part of the plea bargain.

Hakeem Mercer, a 30-year-old Newark resident and co-defendant in the case, also pleaded guilty to a count of conspiring to commit an aggravated assault upon the victim. Mercer was sentenced to 10 years in state prison for his role in the killing of Shackleford.

The guilty pleas were entered on May 11 before Superior Court Judge Michael Toto in New Brunswick.

Both Gillens and Mercer will be required to serve 85% of their sentences before becoming eligible for parole, as per the state No Early Release Act.

The investigation which ultimately led to the arrest of Gillens and Mercer began on April 5, 2013, when police heard gunshots fired in the Chrome section of Carteret.

Upon arriving at the scene of the crime, Pershing Avenue and Union Street, police discovered Shackleford lying on the sidewalk. He was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Rahway, where he was pronounced dead at 8:17 p.m.

According to Seth Augenstein, reporting for NJ.com at the time of the initial investigation, Gillens was arrested shortly after the shooting, when police chased him until he surrendered outside an apartment complex on Roosevelt Avenue.

At the time, Jim O'Neill, public information officer for the prosecutor's office, indicated that detectives determined the shooting was not random, but targeted.

The defendants were charged during an investigation by Sgt. Marcus Rosario of the Carteret Police Department and Detective Gregory Morris of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

The plea agreements were reached between the defense and Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Allysa Gambarella and Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Akesha Williams.