Topekan Eric Newman was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison Wednesday for the second-degree murder on a cruise ship of his longtime girlfriend, Tamara Tucker, whom authorities said he was strangling when he pushed her over a balcony railing, causing her to fall to her death.
Newman, 55, killed Tucker as they took a vacation to celebrate her 50th birthday, Stephen McAllister, U.S. Attorney for Kansas, said in a news release.
The release indicated McAllister was joined at a news conference Wednesday in Topeka by members of Tucker’s family, including her mother, Wanda Tucker-Schrantz; her sister, Dawn Tucker; and her brother, Bo Tucker.
McAllister said that as a teacher, an advocate and a professional social worker with a master’s degree, "Ms. Tucker was no stranger to the complexities of human nature that can transform love into deadly violence."
Tucker was killed early Jan. 19, 2018, aboard the Carnival Elation, a vessel registered in Panama. Her 50th birthday had been two days earlier. The ship was on a voyage that took passengers from Jacksonville, Fla., to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and back.
Jacksonville’s Florida Times-Union reported Newman attacked Turner during an argument in their room after an evening of heavy drinking by both.
"The man who killed Tamara Tucker was no stranger to her," McAllister said. "He was her intimate partner for years, a person she loved and trusted. He was the one person she wanted to share this special voyage and to join her in celebrating her 50th birthday."
Newman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case last December.
McAllister commended the FBI field offices in Jacksonville and Topeka, trial attorney Rami S. Badawy and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney of the District of Kansas for their work on the case.