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New Jersey Woman Gets 95-Year Prison Sentence In 2016 Killing Of Girlfriend

Jennifer Sweeney will spend the rest of her life in prison for both the attempted murder and the murder of her girlfriend, Tyrita Julius, more than six years ago.

By Dorian Geiger
A police handout of Jennifer Sweeney

A New Jersey woman has been sentenced to nearly 100 years behind bars for both arranging the unsuccessful assassination of her lover and for later strangling the woman to death with an electrical cord, officials said.

A superior court judge gave Jennifer Sweeney a 95-year prison sentence in the 2016 murder and 2015 attempted murder of Tyrita Julius, 41, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office announced on Saturday. Julius was killed just months after Sweeney orchestrated a failed assassination attempt on her ex-lover’s life, Judge David F. Bauman said in court, the Asbury Park Press reported

Sweeney was sentenced to 75 years for Julius' slaying and an additional 20 years for the assassination attempt.

“This sentencing is a fitting outcome to the prosecution of genuinely monstrous crimes,” Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey said in a press release statement on May 7. “This defendant’s actions were callous, calculated, and vicious and ended the life of a woman beloved by her family and friends.”

Sweeney, a 38-year-old Tinton Falls woman, was found guilty in September of charges of first-degree murder, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, first-degree attempted murder, desecration of human remains and tampering with physical evidence in Julius’ death and in the prior, failed attempt. Sweeney was also convicted on a trio of weapons’ offenses. 

A personal photo of Tyrita Julius

Andre Harris, the gunman and high school friend who Sweeney contracted to carry out the failed 2015 shooting of Julius, received a 16-year sentence for his involvement in the murder plot. Harris —who took a plea deal — had testified against Sweeney during trial.

He told investigators that Sweeney orchestrated the failed assassination attempt on Julius because she suspected Julius was cheating on her, NJ.com reported. 

On Nov. 24, 2015, police officers responded to a residence in the 900 block of Middlesex Street in Linden, New Jersey after reports of a shooting. Authorities found Julius in the driver’s seat of her car, which had struck a utility pole near her home. She was shot eight times but managed to survive. Her teenage daughter also suffered a gunshot wound in the failed assassination attempt. No arrests were immediately made in the brazen shooting.

In March 2016, Julius was reported missing by her family. Julius' mother told investigators that her daughter was with Sweeney shortly before Julius vanished.

"Authorities were told at that time that Tyrita had been spending time with a female friend in Tinton Falls the day before, but failed to return home later that evening," the prosecutor’s statement added.

Months later, Julius’ body was found wrapped in two garbage bags in the backyard of Sweeney's friend Harris’ Long Branch home. She had an electrical cord wrapped around her neck, prosecutors said.

Sweeney and Harris were later arrested and indicted by a Monmouth County grand jury in December 2016, according to a copy of the case's indictment obtained by Oxygen.com.

Sweeney must serve a minimum of nearly 64 years in prison on the murder charge before she’s eligible for parole, prosecutors said. She must serve the entirety of her 20-year term on the attempted murder charges. She won’t be eligible for parole until she’s more than 100 years old, according to state laws.

Sweeney and Harris are being held at a Monmouth County detention facility pending their transfer to a New Jersey state prison, prosecutors said. 

Robin Kay Lord, Sweeney’s attorney, wasn’t immediately available for comment when contacted by Oxgyen.com on Tuesday afternoon.