A 38-year-old New Jersey woman was convicted Friday on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, weapons offenses and other crimes in the savage killing of her girlfriend nearly six years ago, prosecutors said.
Jennifer Sweeney arranged to have 41-year-old Tyrita Julius, of Linden, shot in 2015, leading to Julius' hospitalization, then strangled her several months later and buried her body in a Long Branch backyard, prosecutors have said.
Julius was shot eight times in the driver's seat of her vehicle on Nov. 24, 2015. Police responding to a call about the shooting found her not far from her residence; her vehicle had collided with a utility pole after she was shot.
The victim's teenage daughter had been in the front passenger seat at the time. She also was wounded.
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The investigation into the shooting was ongoing when less than four months later, on March 9, 2016, Julius' mother reported her daughter missing to police departments in Linden and Long Branch. Authorities were told Julius had spent time with a female friend in Tinton Falls the day before but never came home.
Investigators from multiple agencies launched an extensive joint investigation two days later. It wasn't until Aug. 16, 2016, that detectives searching the Long Branch residence of the gunman involved in Julius' 2015 shooting found her body.
Julius' remains were buried in his backyard, wrapped in two garbage bags. She had an electrical cord around her neck. Both Sweeney and the gunman were arrested.
Sweeney's conviction Friday marked the culmination of a roughly month-long trial. She faces up to life in state prison without the possibility of parole and is expected to be sentenced in November.
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,” Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey said in a statement announcing the conviction.