Appellate court affirms murder convictions in Freehold Borough homicides


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A three-judge appellate court has denied dual appeals filed by two New York City men convicted of the 2010 double-homicide of siblings who owned a Freehold Borough restaurant, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced.

In 2015, Zeng Liang Chen, 28, and Dong Biao Lin, 31, both previously residing in New York City, were each sentenced to terms of life in prison by now-retired Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci Jr. The sentences for both men were also subject to the provisions of the No Early Release Act requiring them to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed, or 63 years and nine months, before becoming eligible for release on parole, according to the prosecutor.

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Lin’s sentence was imposed following his acceptance of a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to two counts of purposeful murder and two counts of felony murder.

Chen’s sentence was imposed following a jury trial during which he was convicted of one count of purposeful murder, one count of felony murder, armed burglary, armed robbery, conspiracy to commit burglary and possession of a weapon (knife) for an unlawful purpose.

After the defendants were sentenced, they filed an appeal to the Superior Court Appellate Division. The result was the April 12 decision affirming their convictions and sentences, according to the prosecutor.

Chen argued on appeal that his confession to the police should have been suppressed because he did not understand his Miranda rights.

Lin, likewise, argued his confession should have been suppressed, claiming the translation of his Miranda rights from English to Mandarin Chinese, Lin’s native language, was imperfect.

Both defendants also challenged their sentences as excessive. Chen also alleged trial errors: that the judge did not adequately explain the law to the jury and that the evidence was insufficient to prove his guilt of purposeful murder.

Appellate Division judges Ellen L. Koblitz, Thomas V. Manahan and Karen L. Suter rejected all of the defendants’ claims as to their convictions and sentences and affirmed their judgments of conviction, according to the prosecutor.

The case involved the slaying of two restaurant owners in Freehold Borough on June 16, 2010. The victims of the crime were a brother and sister, Yao Chen, 28, and his sister, Yun Juan Chen, 39, both of South Street.

Defendant Zeng Liang Chen is not related to either of the victims.

The two suspects were arrested by Freehold Township police on the same afternoon as the murders occurred in Freehold Borough.

An investigation revealed Lin previously worked in a Freehold-area restaurant owned by the Chen family. Believing a significant quantity of cash was in the South Street residence, the two men broke into the home while Yao Chen and Yun Juan Chen were inside. Other members of the Chen family, who resided in the home, were working at a nearby family owned restaurant at the time of the break-in.

Lin and Chen attacked the victims inside the home before fleeing the scene. Yao Chen made his way outside to South Street where he was observed by a passerby who contacted police.

Lin testified at Chen’s trial that Chen participated in the planning of the crime, tying the male victim to a bed and holding him captive while Lin searched the home for money and other valuables.

Lin, who admitted he inflicted the fatal knife wounds on Yao Chen and Yun Juan Chen, testified that defendant Zeng Liang Chen also brandished the knife during the attack. Chen admitted to police that he beat Yao Chen with brass knuckles after tying him to the bed, according to the prosecutor.

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