I had previously been following the trial of Tina Lunney, who was convicted by a jury in May ofmurdering her 81-year old mother, Marie Zoppi, by strangling her with a necktie. The trial told the story of an unprovoked attack, motivated by Lunney’s desire to gain access to her mother’s credit cards for purposes of paying off her gambling debts and booking a vacation. It also painted Lunney as calculated and cold – the State demonstrated that Lunney went about her business for an entire day after committing the murder before fleeing to the a casino in Atlantic City.
Lunney (pictured left in her prison garb) appeared yesterday, August 13, 2013, at the Essex County Superior Court forsentencing before The Honorable Thomas Moore, who called the crime “heinous” and ultimately sentenced Lunney to 40 years in New Jersey State Prison. Lunney will have to serve the majority of that sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
Prosecutors indicated that the murder was committed only after Lunney cheated on her husband and exhausted his inheritance, and drove the family into bankruptcy. The victim’s daughter-in-law (who spoke on behalf of the family at sentencing) further indicated that “Tina got to this place because of secrecy and lies and shame.” Lunney remained emotionless while the tears began to flow from family members.
Lunney apparently attempted to contact the Star-Ledger for an interview from the jail last month, during which she maintained her innocence. She declined to comment at her sentencing.
For more information, see the Star-Ledger article entitled, “Judge: Fairfield woman who killed mother committed ‘heinous crime,’ sentenced to 40 years.”