Asbury Park man pleads guilty to gunning down star athlete

FREEHOLD -- A 23-year-old Asbury Park man pleaded guilty in Monmouth County Superior Court on Thursday to killing one man and shooting another. Jamar Small, a former all-state football player for Asbury Park High School, was sitting in a car with a relative,...

Asbury Park man pleads guilty to gunning down star athlete

FREEHOLD -- A 23-year-old Asbury Park man pleaded guilty in Monmouth County Superior Court on Thursday to killing one man and shooting another.

Jamar Small, a former all-state football player for Asbury Park High School, was sitting in a car with a relative, 25-year-old Tyreek Small, shortly before noon on Dec. 20, 2015 when five gunshots were fired into their vehicle as they were backing out of a driveway.

The 24-year-old Jamar Small was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune where he later died as a result of the gunshot wounds he suffered.  Tyreek Small was also injured in the shooting but survived.

Jamar Small, 24, was the quarterback at Texas Southern University in Houston. As a senior, Small helped lead the Tigers to their best start in five years in 2014. (Photo courtesy of Texas Southern University).Texas Southern University 

Diquan "Gudda" Speights, 23, of Asbury Park, was arrested two months later and charged with murder in Jamar Small's death and with the attempted murder of Tyreek Small.

Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said at the time of his arrest on those charges that Speights had also pointed a gun at another member of the Small family - Tieshe Small, 29, also of Asbury Park - just minutes before the deadly shooting.

Speights was arrested on Dec. 20, 2015 on a charge of aggravated assault for the altercation with Tieshe Small. He was lodged in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution on $400,000 cash bail.

In the two months that followed, investigators determined that Small was also responsible for the shooting that killed Jamar Small and wounded Tyreek Small.

On Thursday, Speights pleaded guilty in front of Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Joseph Oxley to first-degree aggravated manslaughter, second-degree aggravated assault and fourth-degree aggravated assault by pointing a firearm.

Under the terms of a plea agreement, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said it will recommend that Speights be sentenced to 16 years in prison and be placed under parole supervision for five additional years upon his release.

The plea agreement was reached with the approval of the victim's family, the prosecutor's office said.

Speights is scheduled to be sentenced on June 2.

Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Maria Franceschini and Martha Nye are prosecuting the case, while Speights is represented by Carlos Diaz-Cobo, of New Brunswick.

Just prior to his death, Jamar Small - who was the father of a young son - had earned a degree in business administration from Texas Southern University where he also played on the football team.

Rob Spahr may be reached at rspahr@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheRobSpahr. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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