EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — A man who used a hammer to fatally beat his sleeping girlfriend at her South Jersey home is now facing up to 40 years in state prison.

Atlantic County prosecutors say 37-year-old Lashawn Smith, of Egg Harbor Township, pleaded guilty Friday to murder in the November 2017 death of 28-year-old Sarah Phillips. Township police found her body when they responded to a 911 call regarding an injured woman inside the home.

Authorities say Smith repeatedly struck Phillips with the hammer while she slept. She died from multiple blunt and sharp force injuries.

Court documents show Smith was angry that Phillips was seeing another man.

Phillips and Smith were the parents of four young children who lived in the home. Authorities haven't said if any of them witnessed the attack.

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