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 indicted an Egg Harbor Township man on a murder charge after his girlfriend was killed with a hammer in November, authorities said.

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

Shortly after 5 a.m. Nov. 3, Egg Harbor Township police found Phillips in a home in the first block of South Zion Road, Tyner said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

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

After an autopsy, the cause of death was determined 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, provided information during the detention hearing that Smith had several prior domestic-violence incidents, including pending charges from Aug. 14 of simple assault on Phillips.

According to GoFundMe campaigns set up by Phillips' family members in November, she was the mother of four children younger than 11. As of Nov. 6, the children were staying with Phillips' mother, family members said. 

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