KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Topeka man has been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for killing his girlfriend on a cruise.
Eric Newman, 55, killed Tamara Tucker, 50, on a Carnival Cruise ship off the coast of Florida in January 2018.
He was sentenced at the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas, on Wednesday after confessing to the crime and being convicted of second-degree murder.
Tucker’s family hopes people look past what happened to her and that Tamara’s memory can create change. Her brother, Bo Tucker, said Tamara dedicated her life to help others.
“Tamara’s life was dedicated to public service,” Bo said. “Teaching and advocating for social justice, especially for those who could not fend for themselves.”
“For me being her niece and growing up with all of my cousins, she was amazing with all of us. She always put us first over everybody,” her niece, Anna Tucker, said.
Tucker taught social work at Park University and was the program director at the Child Abuse Prevention Association.
U.S. Attorney, Stephen McAllister, said Newman was abusing her when he killed her.
“We know that Mr. Newman choked Miss Tucker and had his hands around her neck when he pushed her over the railing of their balcony and she fell to her death on the 11th deck below,” McAllister said.
Tucker’s family is calling for a national domestic violence database, much like a sex-offender registry.
“It would make me feel blessed that we have lawmakers who can see a need, and it’s not just Tamara,” Bo said. “Tamara is gone, but how many more people can we help?”
Newman was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison and five years probation. Tamara’s sister, Dawn Tucker, said a registry like this could have saved her sister’s life.
“I can tell you that we would have looked Eric up on this registry if it had existed, and we would have done everything in our power to remove my sister from that harm,” Dawn said.
A search of Newman’s criminal history shows four cases of domestic abuse in the state of Kansas between 2000 and 2013. Tucker’s family says if lawmakers could put a database like this in place, it would continue Tamara’s mission of education and social work.
“It’s not just about today and a sad family, but it’s about changing the laws and the ways people view domestic violence,” Tamara’s mother, Meredith Tucker, said.
Tucker’s case was prosecuted federally because it happened offshore. Prosecutors said they had the ability to try the case in Florida or in the offender’s state of origin.