LAKEWOOD — A resident of the Bayville section of Berkeley Township could be spending up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to a carjacking charge from an incident three-and-a-half years ago.

The quarter-century sentence is what a release from the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office said the state will be recommending for John Bailey, 35, who was first charged in early January 2021, then apprehended later that month.

Bailey's arrest was the first sign of potential closure in a Dec. 5, 2018 encounter in Lakewood, where he was accused of approaching a vehicle in which a 20-year-old woman was sitting outside her home, asking for directions and a ride.

The prosecutor's office said the woman provided the directions Bailey sought but refused to give him a lift, shortly after which he returned to the car, punched in a window, then entered the vehicle and sat on the woman, beginning to choke her.

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According to the police investigation, Bailey then drove the car away with the victim still inside, demanding she stay quiet or he would kill her. She managed to escape while the car was still in motion, the prosecutor's office said, and ran to a nearby home to call police.

The victim was treated at a local hospital for head lacerations, neck wounds, and a bite mark on her leg. The blood-stained vehicle was found later that day.

A continuing investigation through the summer and fall of 2020 identified John Bailey as a possible DNA match, after which a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Bailey's sentencing has been set for Aug. 12.

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