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Egg Harbor Township man charged in hammer murder to be sentenced Friday

MAYS LANDING — The Egg Harbor Township man who pleaded guilty to beating his girlfriend to death with a hammer in 2017 is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

Lashaun Smith, 37, who admitted in January to killing his 28-year-old girlfriend, Sarah Phillips, on Nov. 3, 2017, in their Zion Road home while their four children were there, is scheduled to appear before Judge Bernard E. DeLury in Atlantic County Superior Court.

As part of a plea deal, DeLury recommended a 40-year sentence, 85 percent of which must be served before Smith is eligible for parole.

Smith had initially rejected a plea agreement in November, which would have brought the case to trial.

Court documents state Smith confessed the night of the incident to hitting Phillips in the head with a hammer because “she had been seeing another man, and he didn’t want to share her,” and he told police dispatch he was the reason Phillips was bleeding.

During a previous court appearance, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office said Smith had several prior domestic violence incidents, including pending charges from Aug. 14, 2017, for simple assault on Phillips.

Smith was indicted Dec. 5, 2017, on murder and weapons charges, and pleaded not guilty during a post-indictment arraignment later that month. At that appearance, Judge John Rauh ordered no contact with Smith’s children, who are in the custody of Phillips’ mother, Paula Modelle.

Smith is currently housed in the Atlantic County jail.

Contact: 609-272-7241 mbilinski@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressMollyB

Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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