John T. Mullen Jr.
John T. Mullen Jr.

A Seaside Heights man has been sentenced to a 22-year prison term after pleading guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the death of a Manchester man during a drug deal gone bad.

John T. Mullen, Jr., 51, was sentenced Monday by Superior Court Judge Guy P. Ryan. Mullen pled guilty to aggravated manslaughter before Judge Ryan on Sept. 23, 2020. He will be required to serve 85 percent of his sentence before being considered for parole, prosecutors said in a statement.

The charges date back to an incident that occurred Oct. 20, 2019. Manchester Police responded to the Surf and Stream Campground on Sunday after receiving multiple 911 calls about a body lying in the entrance driveway to the campground. Upon arrival, Manchester patrol officers found the body of Thomas J. Applegate, 34, of Manchester, lying in the driveway of the campground with a wound in his chest. He was pronounced at the scene.


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The encounter between the two men apparently began as a drug deal, prosecutors have said. Mullen planned on stealing Xanax from the victim, but the situation spiraled into a killing.

“The law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation – through sheer hard work and resolve – swiftly identified Mullen as the individual responsible for Mr. Applegate’s death and quickly brought him into custody,” Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said. “The exceptional teamwork displayed by these law enforcement professionals has brought about a lengthy state prison sentence for Mullen, which may, as Judge Ryan pointed out, effectively result in a life sentence given this defendant’s age and longstanding history of substance abuse.”

“We hope this sentence affords the family of Mr. Applegate some level of peace and closure,” Billhimer concluded.