Tinton Falls woman found guilty of having girlfriend shot then strangled her to death
A Tinton Falls woman who had her girlfriend shot eight times six years ago sending her to the hospital then strangled her to death herself several months later and buried the body in a Long Branch backyard, has been found guilty of Murder by a Monmouth County jury.
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Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Friday the conviction of Jennifer Sweeney, 38, on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, three related weapons offenses, second-degree desecration of human remains, and fourth-degree tampering with physical evidence in connection with the death of 41-year-old Tyrita Julius of Linden.
“The suffering endured by Tyrita Julius at the hands of someone who was supposed to care for her during the last several months of her life was unspeakable, and while today’s verdict can’t bring Tyrita back, we hope it offers some sense of solace and closure to her friends and family,” Prosecutor Linskey said in a statement. “I’d also like to recognize and thank the many police agencies in Monmouth and Union counties that contributed to this investigation, which featured a great number of moving parts and stands out as an excellent example of the power of collaboration in law enforcement.”
Linden Police responded to the 900 block of Middlesex Street on November 24, 2015 around 7:16 pm and found Julius, who they seen had been shot eight times, in the driver’s seat of her vehicle.
The vehicle was located, police said, after colliding with a utility pole a short distance from her residence.
Her teenage daughter was seated in the front passenger seat of the vehicle, having also sustained a gunshot wound.
Both women where shot at the hands of 37-year old Andre Harris.
The investigation continued and suddenly on March 9, 2016 Julius's mother reported her daughter missing to Linden Police and Long Branch Police.
Acting Prosecutor Linskey said that authorities were told at that time that Tyrita spent time with a female friend in Tinton Falls on March 8, but she didn't return home.
Investigators from the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and Linden Police contacted the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office about the investigation on March 11, 2016, and a joint investigation ensued by those agencies, as well as the Union County Police Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office, and the Long Branch, Tinton Falls, and New Jersey Transit police departments.
Detectives found Julius’s body on August 16, 2016 during the course of a search of the Long Branch home of Andre Harris.
Julius’ remains were discovered buried in the backyard, wrapped in two garbage bags, with an electrical cord around her neck.
Sweeney and Harris were both then arrested and charged, with a Monmouth County grand jury returning an indictment against each of them 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 New Jersey’s No Early Release Act, and agreed to testify during Sweeney’s trial.
Sweeney following the guilty verdict by a jury faces life in state prison without the possibility of parole.
Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for Friday, November 19, 2021.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutors Christopher J. Decker and Caitlin Sidley of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office’s Major Crimes Bureau.
Sweeney was represented by Edward C. Bertucio and W. Les Hartman of Kalavruzos, Mumola, Hartman, Lento & Duff in Hamilton, New Jersey.