MAYS LANDING — A Ventnor woman pleaded guilty Tuesday morning in the July 2018 killings and robbery of her mother and grandmother.
Heather Barbera, 43, who admitted she beat the two women with her father’s billy club, tearfully entered the plea in Atlantic County Superior Court.
Barbera pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated manslaughter in the death of her mother, Michelle Gordon, and first-degree murder in the death of Elaine Rosen, her grandmother, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office said in a news release.
“This was a very difficult case for a lot of reasons, and hopefully today’s plea can bring forth some measure of peace and closure to everyone involved,” said Barbera’s attorney, James Leonard Jr.
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Leonard said “a very dysfunctional family dynamic” led to “an absolute horrific series of events that ended tragically for everyone involved.”
The plea deal calls for 42 years in state prison with 40 years and two months of parole ineligibility, according to the release. Barbera is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 9.
Prosecutors alleged Barbera beat Rosen, 87, and Gordon, 67, to death before robbing them July 8, 2018, inside a condominium at the Vassar Square Arms complex in Ventnor where Barbera also lived.
Barbera’s uncle, Richard Rosen, who found his mother and sister dead in their Ventnor condo, said he doesn’t think the potential sentence is long enough but that he got “a little bit of closure.”
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“I guess it was fair,” said Rosen, 51, of Brooklyn, New York. “I wanted more, but I don’t think she’ll get out of jail.”
For both victims, the cause of death was multiple blunt-impact injuries and the manner of death was homicide, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner has said.
“Heather Barbera did the unthinkable when she murdered her mother and grandmother with a billy club used by her father when he worked as a beat cop in Brooklyn, New York,” Tyner said in a statement. “This plea will not bring back Ms. Gordon or Mrs. Rosen, but it will save the family the unnecessary trauma of experiencing a trial while still getting a modicum of justice. This plea agreement will ensure that the defendant will remain imprisoned well into her 80s.”
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Barbera was first indicted Oct. 17, 2018, on two counts of first-degree murder, third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and first-degree robbery by inflicting bodily injury. She pleaded not guilty at an arraignment several days later.
A grand jury on Oct. 3 handed down a second, superseding indictment that included two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree murder during the commission of a crime, three counts of first-degree armed robbery, one count of third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and one count of third-degree credit card theft, court records show.
Barbera entered a not guilty plea to the superseding indictment earlier this month.
Barbera was arrested by New York City police July 11, 2018, at the Midtown Manhattan Port Authority and was held in the Rose M. Singer women’s facility on Rikers Island before she was extradited to Atlantic County the following month.
She is currently at the Atlantic County jail.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.