FREEHOLD – A Tinton Falls woman has been sentenced to 95 years in prison after arranging to have her girlfriend shot but later strangling her to death, officials said.
Jennifer Sweeney, 38, must serve a minimum of 85 percent of both the 75-year life term for the murder of 41-year-old Tyrita Julius and the 20-year term for the shooting, under the provisions of New Jersey’s No Early Release Act, meaning she will not become eligible for parole until she is more than 100 years of age.
Last September, Sweeney was found guilty on charges of first-degree Murder, first-degree Conspiracy to Commit Murder, first-degree Attempted Murder, three related weapons offenses, second-degree Desecration of Human Remains, and fourth-degree Tampering with Physical Evidence.
“This sentencing is a fitting outcome to the prosecution of genuinely monstrous crimes,” Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey said. “This defendant’s actions were callous, calculated, and vicious, and ended the life of a woman beloved by her family and friends. I sincerely thank the detectives and assistant prosecutors who worked so diligently over so many years to see that justice was done in this case.”
The case first began on November 24, 2015, when a shooting was reported on Middlesex Street in Linden. Police found Julius injured in the driver’s seat of her car with eight gunshot wounds. Her car had crashed into a utility pole near her house. Julius’ teenage daughter, in the passenger seat, had been shot once.
Julius was hospitalized but later recovered.
On March 9, 2016, her mother reported Julius missing to both the Linden and Long Branch police departments. The police learned that she had been spending time with a female friend in Tinton Falls the day before, but didn’t come home.
On August 16, 2016, Julius was found buried in the back yard of Andre Harris, 38, of Long Branch. Harris was the one who had shot her months earlier. Police said she was wrapped in garbage bags with an electrical cord around her neck. Sweeney and Harris were subsequently arrested and charged, with a Monmouth County grand jury returning an indictment against each in December 2016.
Harris later reached a plea agreement for a New Jersey State Prison term of 16 years, with 85 percent to be served before the possibility of parole under the No Early Release Act, and agreed to testify during Sweeney’s trial.