Woman Ordered Hit on Lover to Keep Her from Leaving — When That Failed, She Strangled Her with Electric Cord

Jennifer Sweeney killed her girlfriend, Tyrita Julius, because she thought Julius was cheating, say prosecutors

Tyrita Julius
Tyrita Julius. Photo: Facebook

A New Jersey woman has been sentenced to nearly 100 years in prison for murdering her girlfriend after ordering a failed hit on the woman's life — and then burying her in her backyard, say authorities.

On Friday, Jennifer Sweeney, 38, of Tinton Falls, was sentenced to 95 years in prison for murdering Tyrita Julius, 41, of Linden, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced in a statement Saturday.

Monmouth County Superior Court Judge David Bauman sentenced Sweeney to 75 years in prison for murdering Julius and 20 years in prison for the attempt on her life, Linskey said in the statement.

Prosecutors determined that Sweeney turned to murder because she thought Julius was cheating on her.

Sweeney will not become eligible for parole until she is more than 100 years old, according to the prosecutor.

She must serve a minimum of 85 percent of both the 75-year life term for the murder and the 20-year term for the shooting under the provisions of New Jersey's No Early Release Act.

"This sentencing is a fitting outcome to the prosecution of genuinely monstrous crimes," Linskey said in the statement. "This defendant's actions were callous, calculated, and vicious, and ended the life of a woman beloved by her family and friends. I sincerely thank the detectives and assistant prosecutors who worked so diligently over so many years to see that justice was done in this case."

Suspicious activity came to light on Nov. 24, 2015, at 7:15 p.m., when members of the Linden Police Department responded to a report of a shooting, the prosecutor said in the statement. There, officers found Julius slumped in the driver's seat of her vehicle, which had hit a utility pole near her home, the prosecutor said.

Julius had been shot eight times.

Her teenage daughter, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, was also shot.

Both survived.

On March 9, 2016, as police were continuing to investigate, Julius' mother reported her missing to police in Linden and in Long Branch.

"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 said in the statement.

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Five months later, on Aug. 16, 2016, Julius' body was discovered by detectives who were searching the Long Branch home of 38-year-old Andre Harris, the gunman in the November 2015 shooting, the prosecutor said in the statement.

Julius' remains "were discovered buried in the backyard, wrapped in two garbage bags, with an electrical cord around her neck," the statement said.

Sweeney and Harris were subsequently arrested and charged, with a Monmouth County grand jury returning an indictment against each in December 2016.

Harris later reached a plea agreement and agreed to testify during Sweeney's trial.

On Friday, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison. As part of his plea agreement, he will serve 85 percent of that term before he is eligible for parole.

As part of his plea agreement, Harris testified against Sweeney, saying she believed Julius was cheating on her, NJ.com and the Asbury Park Press report.

Sweeney was found guilty in September 2021, after a month-long trial.

She was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, first-degree attempted murder, three related weapons offenses, second-degree desecration of human remains, and fourth-degree tampering with physical evidence.

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