ASBURY PARK - The family of an Asbury Park man who was shot and killed in December say they will petition a judge to deny a plea bargain offered to his alleged killer.
Jamal Small’s family say that the 20-year prison sentence deal offered to alleged killer Diquan Speights is unacceptable.
“This man committed one of the most heinous crimes in Asbury Park and not only that, but he took someone from the community who was a role model,” says cousin Duane Small.
Jamal Small was shot and killed on Summerfield Avenue and pronounced dead three hours later. Another man was also shot, but survived.
Small was 24 years old at the time of his murder. He was a star football player at Asbury Park High School, a recent college graduate and a father.
Small's mother, Lucy, says prosecutors failed to thoroughly review her family's options and presented the plea agreement offer as the only choice.
“I'm upset. I'm crying. I don't understand this system…I don't understand this system at all,” she says.
First Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Marc Lemieux tells News 12 New Jersey his office is comfortable with the plea bargain due to "self-defense issues" in the case, and says the victim's immediate family agreed to it before it was presented only for another relative to change their minds later.
The plea offer made is what's known as an escalating offer. The prison time increases as the approaching trial gets closer and the deal remains unanswered.
Lemieux says that Speights has not accepted the offer, so it could be a non-issue.