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Sentence shortened for ex-teacher who killed NYPD friend

A former New Jersey elementary school teacher was convicted twice of killing her retired NYPD police officer boyfriend and had her prison sentence shortened from 20 to 18 years on Wednesday by a state Superior Court judge.

According to the New Jersey Herald, Virginia Vertetis was initially sentenced to 30 years in 2017 after being convicted of the murder of Patrick Gilhuley. But an appeals court overturned that verdict in 2020 due to an error in jury instruction.

The following year, Vertetis entered a guilty plea, which came with a 20-year prison sentence for manslaughter. However, an appeals court again overturned that sentence, ruling that it was improperly imposed based on aggravating factors not supported by evidence.

On Wednesday, a New Jersey judge removed two years from that term because of the error the court made, the Herald reports.

According to sentencing guidelines, the 62-year-old convict must serve at least 85% of the prison sentence, which amounts to more than 15 years. She has already spent almost six years behind bars.

Vertetis unsuccessfully pleaded not guilty in self-defense during her first trial. According to the defendant, the victim strangled her and said he was going to kill her before shooting him with a gun he kept under the mattress of her New Jersey home, according to CBS News.

The victim’s daughter, Jennifer Gilhuley, told investigators she was on the phone with her father when he was killed.

Gilhuley is said to have made several “frenzied” phone calls to his daughter on the night he died.

911 recordings showed Vertetis telling police she thought someone was breaking into her home, but prosecutors charged at trial that wasn’t true.

Vertetis and Gilhuley had reportedly been involved in an on-again, off-again relationship for about five years. Gilhuley was a retired cop who was reportedly working as a celebrity bodyguard at the time of his death.

His mother, daughter and brother attended Vertetis’ sentencing hearing, where they accused her of “manipulating” the justice system.

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