Crime and Courts
Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.
New Jersey

NJ Woman Gets 42 Years in Prison for Beating Deaths of Her Mother, Grandmother

The woman apologized in court, saying she "never wanted any of this to happen"; her lawyer said she was part of a "toxic" family

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A woman who pleaded guilty in the beating deaths of her mother and grandmother in their New Jersey beach home was sentenced Thursday to 42 years in prison.

Heather Barbera, 43, used a nightstick to bludgeon 67-year-old Michelle Gordon and 87-year-old Elaine Rosen in their Ventor condo in July 2018, authorities said. She then stole the victims' cash and credit cards. She was arrested a few days later.

Barbera pleaded guilty in October to aggravated manslaughter and murder.

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At a sentencing hearing Thursday, prosecutor Allison Eiselen said Barbera "just walked away" as the victims lay dying.

"There is no more heinous, cruel or depraved crime than killing one's own mother and grandmother," she said.

Barbera apologized in court, saying, "I never wanted any of this to happen." Her lawyer told the judge that Barbera was part of a "toxic" family.

Under a plea agreement, Barbera would be eligible for parole after serving 40 years.

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