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Egg Harbor Township man indicted in killing of girlfriend with hammer

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Smith detention hearing

Prosecutors cited previous domestic-violence incidents in opposing the release before trial of murder suspect Lashawn Smith, of Egg Harbor Township.


MAYS LANDING — An Atlantic County grand jury has indicted an Egg Harbor Township man on murder charges after allegedly killing his girlfriend with a hammer in November, authorities said.

Lashawn Smith, 36, was indicted on charges of murder, possession of a weapon and unlawful possession of a weapon in the death of his 28-year-old girlfriend Sarah Phillips, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said in a statement.

Egg Harbor Township police responding to a call at 5:04 a.m. Nov. 3 for an injured woman inside a home on the first block of South Zion Road found Phillips, who was pronounced dead at the scene, Tyner said.

An investigation by the prosecutor’s Major Crimes Unit and township police found Smith struck Phillips multiple times with a hammer, Tyner said.

An autopsy determined the cause of death to be homicide due to multiple blunt- and sharp-force injuries, Tyner said.

Smith remains in the Atlantic County jail, following a detention hearing last month.

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seth Levy, representing the state, provided information during the detention hearing that Smith had several prior domestic-violence incidents, including pending charges from Aug. 14 for simple assault on Phillips.

GoFundMe campaigns set up by Phillips’ family in November indicate she was the mother of four children younger than 11.

As of Nov. 6, the child-ren were staying with Phillips’ mother, family members said.

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Contact: 609-272-7090 Twitter: @_waldy

Waldy Diez joined the Press of Atlantic City's breaking news team in July 2017. She's a graduate of Syracuse and Rowan Universities. Previously, she was a morning tv news producer.

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