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Breaking news & local stories from Camden City, Berlin, Laurel Springs and more

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    He told police he was dancing and jumped on the bed.

    After his girlfriend's 8-month-old baby died in his care Thursday, Ah'ree Stanley-Nellom told detectives that he delivered the blow that killed her, but it was an accident.

    Stanley-Nellom, 20, told investigators he was dancing to music when he walked into the bedroom of the Gloucester Township home and jumped onto the bed, "not thinking" about how the baby was sleeping there. His elbow came down on her stomach, police wrote in court documents.

    In the same documents, investigators noted that Stanley-Nellom kept changing his story and said he was "scared to admit certain things at first."

    He is now facing a first-degree murder charge and being held in the Camden County Jail, pending a court date next week, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office said Friday.

    The 8-month-old girl died from a lacerated liver caused by blunt abdominal trauma, Camden County Medical Examiner Gerald Feigin found. Feigin also noted that the child had genital injuries, Camden County Prosecutor's Office Detective Chris Sarson wrote in a probable cause statement.

    Sarson said Stanley-Nellom was watching his girlfriend's children at her home, in the Buttonwood Village Aparyments in the Blackwood section of the township, while she was at work Wednesday night into Thursday morning. 

    The 20-year-old at first told detectives he woke up at 3 a.m. and saw the baby had milk coming out of her nose and mouth, Sarson wrote. He later changed his story, telling investigators that she had been injured when he jumped on the bed, Sarson said.

    The girl made a moaning or gasping noise and immediately needed her diaper changed, and Stanley-Nellom said he was "more forceful than normal" cleaning her up "because she was moving around and he was upset," Sarson noted in the statement.

    More than a year later, man charged with killing 3-year-old

    Stanley-Nellom told detectives he called the baby's mother when he realized something was wrong, and they called 911 when she arrived home. Police and EMTs arrived at the home at 3:53 a.m. and rushed the unresponsive baby to Jefferson Washington Township Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 4:38 a.m., the statement said.

    At a hearing next week, the prosecutor's office will ask a judge to order Stanley-Nellom held in jail pending trial.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    A South Jersey town was selected by Reader's Digest as the most charming in the state


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    Gabrielle "Gabby" Hill Carter had been riding her bike when she was hit by a stray bullet.

    CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) -- A New Jersey man convicted of fatally shooting an 8-year-old girl caught in gang-violence crossfire has been sentenced to 51 years in prison.

    Tyhan Brown was sentenced Friday.

    The 20-year-old Camden man was charged in the 2016 slaying of Gabrielle "Gabby" Hill Carter. She'd been riding her bike when she was hit by a stray bullet.

    The girl's mother and stepfather wept in the courtroom as Brown was sentenced.

    A jury found Brown guilty of aggravated manslaughter and related charges after watching video of the gun battle and hearing Brown threaten a witness during a chilling Facebook Live recording.

    Prosecutors have said Brown was arguing with a rival gang member when he tried to shoot the other man.

    Brown was captured in Tennessee about a month after the shooting.


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    She told them she would cut off their fingers and throw them in the trash, officials said.

    The former preschool director who used a knife to threaten two 4-year-olds  will never work in childcare again and likely get probation.

    Adetokunbo O. Akinnaso, 64, the former director of Dawn to Dusk Christian Childcare and Learning Center in Plainfield, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of fourth-degree child abuse in Superior Court in Union County, the Union County Prosecutor's Office said Friday. The prosecutor's office has agreed to recommend probation at her sentencing Sept. 28.

    In an attempt to discipline two young children Feb. 28, Akinnaso put a steak knife into their hands and told them she would cut their fingers off and throw them in the trash if they kept misbehaving, according to authorities and a report by the Department of Children and Families Office of Licensing. They weren't injured.

    She was immediately removed from her job, a school district official said.

    Raymond Moss of Plainfield, the father of one of the victims, is incredulous that Akinnaso won't face more than probation for threatening children with a weapon. He also questions why Akinnaso is not facing weapons or threats charges, but said the prosecutor's office told him the charges filed are the ones they thought they could prove.

    Moss said his son, Elijah, is normally a "bundle of joy" but was traumatized by the incident and doesn't like to talk about it. "As soon as we sit him down and try to have these conversations, he goes to another place," Moss said in an interview in July.

    Mark Spivey, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office, declined to comment on why other charges were not pursued. He said the child abuse charges Akinnaso pleaded guilty to were not reduced as part of the plea deal.

    The prosecutor's office will recommend she be sentenced to probation but the length of the term will be up to the judge, Spivey said. As part of the plea, Akinnaso also agreed to have no contact with the victims or their families and to never seek employment for a job where she would work with children, Spivey said.

    She had applied for Pretrial Intervention, but was not accepted into the program.

    Her attorney, Adetula Olubukola, has declined to comment on the case.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption at shelters and rescues.

    Holmdel volunteer wins international award in dog photography competition

    The Kennel Club in London recently announced the winners of its annual Dog Photographer of the Year competition with Sonya Kolb of Holmdel selected as the winner of the competition's 'Rescue Dog' category.

    rescue_dog.jpg 

    The award comes with a PS500 prize for the charity of the winner's choice. Kolb has chosen to donate the money to the Monmouth County SPCA where she has been taking photos for seven years.

    The dog in Kolb's winning photograph is rescue dog Cooper, whose family adopted him after their first rescue dog tragically died before they had even brought him home.

    "I am extremely grateful to have won the Rescue category in the Dog Photographer of the Year competition," said Kolb. "I can remember every second of this photo shoot as if it were yesterday. This image reveals what is so important in life - our emotional connections with others. Dogs fulfill our deepest emotional needs, giving us so freely an abundance of love, comfort and joy. I love creating images that spread happiness and connect us heart to heart, hand to paw, with our most positive emotions."

    Monica van der Maden from the Netherlands was chosen overall winner of the competition with an image of Noa the Great Dane which placed first in the 'Oldies' category. The other first place category winners were:

    • Elinor Roizman, Israel, 'Dogs at Play';
    • Klaus Dyber, Germany, 'Puppy';
    • Carol Durrant, the UK, 'Portrait';
    • Tracy Kidd, the UK, 'Dogs at Work';
    • Joana Matos, Portugal, 'Man's Best Friend';
    • Dean Mortimer, the UK, 'Assistance Dogs';
    • Tamara Kedves, Hungary, 'I Love Dogs Because...;
    • Mariah Mobley (age 11), United States, 'Young Pup Photographer'

    All of the winning images plus the photos that placed second and third for each category will be on display at the Kennel Club in London from through Oct. 5. To view all the winning images, go to dogphotographeroftheyear.org.uk.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at greghatalagalleries@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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    New Jersey contestants battling for $1 million prize on hit TV show include Ninja Warrior stars Jamie Rahn and Chris Wilczewski. Watch video

    Three months into the 10th season of "American Ninja Warrior," some of the mighty veteran athletes have taken unexpected falls. But others have thrived and survived, including two New Jersey natives who have competed on multiple seasons of NBC's hit competition show: Jamie Rahn and Chris Wilczewski.

    Rahn and Wilczewski both grew up in South Jersey, both moved out of state to open ninja training gyms, and both earned a trip to the 2018 national finals after plowing their way through all of the grueling obstacles at the Philadelphia city finals on Aug. 13.

    The two Ninja stars will be joined by Camden County occupational therapist Rachael Goldstein, Gloucester County auctioneer Judas Licciardello and former college gymnast Abby Clark of Morris County.

    The first stage of the national finals -- taped in Las Vegas earlier this summer -- will air on NBC on Monday, Aug. 27, and Monday, Sept. 3. The remaining stages will air on Sept. 10, the season finale.

    Contestants have to successfully complete four stages of difficult obstacles to win the grand prize of $1 million. 

    In the show's 10-year history, only two athletes have ever finished all four stages -- both during the same season. And only the one with the fastest time went home with the million-dollar prize.

    Ninja dreams shattered 

    Four other Ninja contestants with New Jersey ties advanced to the city finals this summer but fell short in their quest for the national finals:

    Michael Torres, a young carpenter who recently moved out of New Jersey to take on a ninja training job in Chicago. The Atlantic County native slipped on the eighth of 10 obstacles at the Minneapolis city finals on Aug. 20. He ended up in 16th place, just one spot shy of qualifying for the nationals.

    Darion Bennett, a Ninja instructor, mold technician and restaurant server from Mercer County, fell into the water on the fourth obstacle -- the giant Wingnuts -- at the Philadelphia city finals on Aug. 13. 

    Paul Ruggeri, a former World Cup gymnast and gymnastics coach from Hudson County, also landed in the water on the fourth obstacle at the Philadelphia city finals. 

    Cara Poalillo, a podcaster and sign language interpreter from Bergen County, had an unexpected slip on the first obstacle -- the Archer Steps -- at the Philadelphia city finals.

    Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @LensReality or like him on Facebook. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Which players are on the verge of breaking out this season?


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    North Jersey powers top the preseason NJ.com Top 20 football rankings


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    A complete list of the 36 New Jersey girls soccer players named to the watchlist for the 2018 High School All-American Game


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    It's the first year of a new playoff system. How will it all play out?


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    'American Ninja Warrior' superstar Jamie Rahn of New Jersey defied the odds after losing a shoe on Stage 1 of the national finals in Las Vegas.


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    Paul Dougherty a commissioner in Haddon Township is "on vacation."

    A municipal elected official from Camden County has decided to skip his first public meeting with constituents Tuesday after being charged last month with leaving the scene of a car accident and driving with an expired license.

    Paul Dougherty, a commissioner in Haddon Township -- one of three elected officials responsible for administering the municipality -- was scheduled to appear at the township's regular action meeting at 7 p.m. in the municipal building.

    Paul Dougherty copy.jpgPaul Dougherty
     

    Mayor Randall Teague, who along with James Mulroy are the other two elected commissioners, said he received an email from Dougherty on Monday informing him that Dougherty "was on vacation" and did not plan to attend the only scheduled meeting this month. Teague said Tuesday he was "concerned" about the accident but Dougherty "deserved his day in court" to explain.

    Dougherty, 49, who is also an attorney and municipal prosecutor for at least three other nearby towns, was issued two citations for the accident in Haddon Township on the evening of July 19, shortly before 9:30 p.m.

    He reported his involvement 20 minutes after the crash,  according to a police report obtained by NJ.com. He apparently was already home when he reported it.

    A Barrington woman who said she was rear-ended by Dougherty near the intersection of Haddon Avenue and Cuthbert Boulevard while waiting for a traffic signal was still in her car at the scene when the officer arrived, the police report said.

    New questions about the incident have arisen in the past week.

    Information from public documents related to the case was posted last week on a Haddon Township Facebook page. The documents were requested by a former township police officer who settled a $175,000 lawsuit with the municipality after he was terminated in 2015.

    The documents, which include an email from Captain Scott Bishop, the department's second ranking officer, to Chief Mark Cavallo, indicates Dougherty gave conflicting accounts of the incident immediately afterward.

    Dougherty left the scene of the accident after claiming the other driver did not follow him into the parking lot of a nearby drug store after the crash, according to the police report. Dougherty later called Cavallo on the chief's mobile phone and told him his wife had been involved in the accident and became "nervous" and drove home, according to an email Bishop wrote to Cavallo the four days later.

    Teague and another township official verified the information in the email Tuesday.

    Cavallo then called the ranking officer that evening, who was Officer Wendy Schwartz, to report that Dougherty's wife had been involved in the accident.

    Dougherty told Schwartz he was the driver after she responded to his home to take an accident report. Dougherty was not tested for alcohol or drug use after the incident.

    Dougherty had attended a concert at the township swimming pool complex prior to the accident, according to Teague and a report in the Retrospect, a weekly newspaper. The report said several people there had observed Dougherty drinking alcohol. Teague, who was not there, said he did not know if Dougherty was drinking at the event.

    Cop's sexual harassment lawsuit against chief came too late, judge rules

    Dougherty said he did not call police dispatch after the accident because he did not trust Sergeant Thomas Whalen who was scheduled to be on duty that night, according to the email Bishop sent to Cavallo. Whalen is one of four senior officers suing the chief and the township over alleged sexually harassment by Cavallo.

    Bishop, Lieutenant Sean Gooley and Detective Sergeant Joseph D. Johnston are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit. All of the officers, including Cavallo, are males. Whalen was off duty that night.

    Bishop sent the email on July 23, the Monday following the incident on Thursday. He said it "appears the circumstances reported to you are different than those reported to the two officers who responded to Commissioner Dougherty's residence."

    Cavallo's response to the email the following day was: "Received. Thank you Captain."

    The information released in the OPRA filing last week was requested by Jason DeMent, a former officer who settled a lawsuit for $175,000 with the township earlier this year after he was terminated in 2015. The lawsuit said Cavallo had sexually harassed him. DeMent agreed to his terms of settlement which stated he had no evidence of harassment from Cavallo.

    The harassment allegations against Cavallo in the suit by the four ranking officers was dismissed in June because of statues of limitations. Part of the suit alleging retaliation from the township after the allegations are still being litigated.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at bduhart@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find NJ.com on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

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    Miguel Rodriguez-Zavala, 38, was found by Camden County police lying on the ground about 1:45 a.m., suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. He ran El Taco Loco restaurant

    The operator of a popular Mexican-food restaurant in Camden was found fatally wounded early Tuesday outside his business, authorities said.

    Miguel Rodriguez-Zavala, 38, was found by police lying on the ground at about 1:45 a.m., suffering from an apparent gunshot wound, according to Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo and Police Chief Scott Thomson.

    He was taken to Cooper University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about 2:10 a.m., authorities said.

    Rodriguez-Zavala was found along with another man who had been beaten.

    The man, identified by police only as a 60-year-old friend of Rodriguez-Zavala's, was being treated at a local hospital, authorities said.

    The two victims were found near El Taco Loco, a restaurant Rodriguez-Zavala ran at 2311 Federal St.

    Camden County Police were flagged down near the intersection of 24th and Federal streets by a woman who reported seeing an injured man.

    Rodriguez-Zavala came to the United States from Mexico as a child and was a married father of two, reported courierpostonline.

    Tuesday evening, a memorial of flickering candles and flowers began to grow outside the shuttered restaurant.

    "Very sad and most heartfelt sympathies to the entire Rodriguez-Zavala family," wrote one person, who posted a photo of the memorial on Facebook.

    No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing, the police and prosecutor said.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact Camden County Prosecutor's Office Det. Lee Hopkins at 856-225-8623 or Camden County Police Det. Colin O'Sullivan at 856-757-7420.

    Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at tattrino@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Which are the top games to watch this weekend?


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    A complete breakdown of the 93-team West Jersey Football League


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    All-State and All-Group girls soccer players returning in 2018


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    From opening day on Thursday right through to two special Turkey Day matchups, here are 50 of the H.S. football games we are particularly excited to see in 2018.


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    The hard working folks that kept New Jersey going.

    It's a safe bet that, good or bad, everyone remembers their first job.

    Some folks have had the good fortune to enjoy working for one employer for their entire career, and then there are people like me who have had so many jobs that there's a really long pause after the question 'And what do YOU do?'

    But whether you had only a handful of employers or were on your way to working for everyone in New Jersey, you'll likely enjoy this gallery of the hard working people of New Jersey over the years.

    Folks in fields like education, law enforcement and public safety will be covered in different galleries, so keep an eye out for them in the future.

    And here are links to more galleries you'll enjoy.

    Vintage photos of people hard at work in N.J.

    Vintage photos of jobs and workers in N.J.

    Vintage photos of working people in N.J.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at greghatalagalleries@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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    There was no shortage of football head coaching changes across New Jersey during the off-season. NJ.com introduces fans to the 40 new head coaches across the state in 2018.


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    There are six group titles up for grabs. Which teams take the crowns?


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