Federal prosecutors said Eric Newman, 55, was on the Carnival Elation celebrating his long-time girlfriend Tamara Tucker’s 50th birthday when the killing occurred

By Christine Pelisek
July 09, 2020 03:58 PM
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Tamara Tucker and Eric Newman
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A Kansas man who pleaded guilty to killing his longtime girlfriend by pushing her off a cruise ship balcony was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in federal prison.

Prosecutors said Eric Newman, 55, was on the Carnival Elation bound for the Bahamas celebrating his long-time girlfriend Tamara Tucker’s 50th birthday in January 2018 when the killing occurred.

Newman admitted the couple, who were staying on the 14th deck of the cruise ship, argued in their cabin before he strangled and then pushed her over the balcony railing.

“He had his hands around her neck when he pushed her over a balcony railing and she fell to her death on the 11th deck,” U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a press release.

Tucker died from blunt force trauma as a result of the fall.

Tamara Tucker
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The killing occurred while the boat was sailing about 30 miles east of New Smyrna Beach, Fla. — the day after the couple boarded the ship.

In December, Newman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with malice aforethought.

Tucker, a mother and grandmother, spent 10 years as a professor of social work at Park University north of Kansas City, Missouri, “dedicated to public service, teaching and advocating for social justice and safety for those that could not fend for themselves,” her family wrote in her obituary.

She also had served as a program director for the Child Abuse Prevention Association, “where she led policy change on both the state and national level and advanced child education and support,” according to her family.

Eric Newman
Topeka Police

A former co-worker, Park University assistant professor of social work Leon Probasco, said Tucker “was loved by her students, for whom she was teacher, mentor and advocate,” reported The Stylus, the university’s student newspaper.

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“She spoke the truth, even when others were quiet,” he said. “Tamara will live on in the memories and lives she touched. She always signed her emails with ‘Namaste,’ which in Sanskrit means ‘The Spirit in me sees the Spirit in you.’ May this continue to be true with her students, family and friends.”

Newman’s attorneys claimed in sentencing memorandums that what happened was “in all likelihood an unintentional killing” as a result of heavy intoxication.