Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today that the Honorable Thomas M. Moore, J.S.C., sentenced Tina Lunney, 46, of Fairfield to 40 years in New Jersey State Prison for murdering her mother, Marie Zoppi.
Lunney is required to serve 85 percent of her sentence under New Jersey’s No Early Release Act before becoming eligible for parole.
On July 22, 2009 Lunney used a necktie to strangle her 81-year-old mother, who lived with Lunney, Lunney’s husband and two children for 14 years. After killing Zoppi, Lunney paid PSE&G, debts with a collection agency, and for a vacation to North Carolina’s Outer Banks using her mother’s credit card. She attempted to make it appear as if her mother had committed suicide. The defendant then fled to Atlantic City.
Upon her return to Fairfield, Lunney gave police a statement admitting she strangled her mother. She also confessed to the crime in five suicide notes found in her pocketbook when she was arrested.
At trial it was revealed that Lunney had also spent her husband’s $37,000 inheritance and had been involved in a 3-year extramarital affair with a Fairfield police officer.
The jury deliberated for a day and a half before returning a guilty verdict on May 24, 2013 following a three-week trial.
“One of the most striking things about this defendant is that she never showed any remorse. Even on the day of her sentencing, she tried to deceive the judge into believing she is mentally ill. All the evidence in the case pointed to the fact that this was a depraved murder of her mother to gain access to money,’’ said Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Simonetti, who tried the case with Assistant Prosecutor Alex Albu.