TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in federal prison for killing his girlfriend by strangling her and pushing her over a balcony on a cruise ship off the coast of Florida.
Eric Newman, 55, of Topeka, also was sentenced to five years of supervised release during a hearing in federal court in Kansas, The Kansas City Star reported. He pleaded guilty in December to second-degree murder in the January 2018 death of 50-year-old Tamara Tucker of Lawson, Missouri.
The couple was on a Carnival cruise from Jacksonville, Florida, to the Bahamas and was staying in a cabin on the 13th deck. Newman admitted during his plea hearing that the couple argued in their cabin. He said he strangled Tucker then pushed her over the cabin room balcony railing to the 11th deck, killing her.
At the time, the cruise ship was about 30 nautical miles (55 kilometers) from New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
At a news conference following the sentencing, U.S. District Attorney Stephen McAllister described her death as “a sad tale of intimate partner violence” and spoke about the need for preventative programs. He was joined by her family, who also called for better domestic violence policies, including a national registry of offenders.
Her brother, Bo Tucker, said Newman was arrested previously for domestic battery, unknown to the family until after Tamara Tucker’s death just days after her 50th birthday. The cruise was a present from her family.
“Tamara was an advocate for everyone else,” he said of his sister, who was a professor of social work at Park University and previously served as a program director of the Child Abuse Prevention Association in the Kansas City area. “She took care of people.”
His sister also had a son, and he lamented that the justice system “does not take domestic abuse seriously.”