Burlington County Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi announced that a Staten Island resident pled guilty Thursday to killing his former girlfriend, Jessica Tush, in April 2008 and placing her body in a shallow grave in the Wharton State Forest.
Thomas Paolino, age 20, of 6 Sylvan Court, Staten Island, N.Y., entered the plea in Burlington County Superior Court to Aggravated Manslaughter (First Degree) and Hindering Apprehension (Third Degree).
Under terms of the plea agreement, Paolino will be sentenced to 23 years and six months in New Jersey state prison on the aggravated manslaughter charge and must serve 20 years without the possibility of parole. The hindering apprehension charge will carry a five-year sentence that will be served concurrently. The Hon. James J. Morley, J.S.C. set sentencing for Sept. 18, 2009.
Members of the New Jersey State Police arrested Paolino on April 7, 2008 and charged him with murder for the death of Tush, 19, also of Staten Island. Her body was discovered by New Jersey State Police the morning of April 3, 2008 after authorities received a 9-1-1 call from hikers in the Wharton State Forest in Washington Township. The homicide was investigated by detectives from the New Jersey State Police's Major Crimes Unit.
An autopsy revealed that Tush died as a result of asphyxia due to strangulation and sharp force injuries to the neck. Paolino has been in the Burlington County Jail since his arrest. Judge Morley revoked Paolino's bail during Thursday's plea hearing.
— ANDY LAGOMARSINO, NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM