A Hamilton Township man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison in connection with the 2014 killing of a woman with whom he lived.

64-year-old Joseph Morrison of Mays Landing was sentenced to 18 years in state prison Friday after he pleaded guilty to first degree murder charges for the shooting death of 52-year-old Debra Mason in November, 2014.

Officers say on the night of November 26, 2014, they responded to Sears Avenue in Hamilton Township and Mason was found with a gunshot wound to the chest. Mason was pronounced dead at the scene. Morrison was present at the home when emergency responders arrived. An investigation resulted in Morrison being arrested the next morning and charged with murder and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. This past May, an Atlantic County Grand Jury indicted Morrison for murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and aggravated assault by pointing a firearm.

At today's sentencing, three of Mason's children addressed the court. Her daughter, Shawn, said, "my mother was my best friend...there is a hole within me that will never be filled...when I think of what this pathetic, selfish monster did."

Prior to issuing his sentence, Judge Michael J. Blee said that when Morrison, “killed the woman with whom he had had a relationship for 15 years, he victimized not just Deborah Mason, but an entire family,” and that, "It is not only the loss of life but the loss of memories that will haunt this family for the rest of their lives.” In delineating the aggravating factors considered for sentencing, Judge Blee said that, "Morrison smoked a cigarette and watched Deborah Mason die before calling 9-1-1.”

Morrison must serve at least 15 years and 3 months in state prison before becoming eligible for parole.