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NJ man gets 26 years for sexual assault of 7-year-old girl, bludgeoning death of her mother

Ralph Atkinson sexually assaulted a 7-year-old girl and bludgeoned and stabbed her mother to death.

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J.  — A man who admitted sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl and bludgeoning and stabbing her mother to death in front of her children is now headed to New Jersey state prison.

Warren County prosecutors say 42-year-old Ralph Atkinson received a 26-year sentence on Tuesday. He had pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Court documents show he filmed the sexual assault.

The charges stem from an attack at the woman’s Washington Township home in May 2014.

Prosecutors say they reluctantly agreed to the plea deal to spare the young victim from having to testify about the sex assaults and her mother’s death. The woman had been dating Atkinson at the time she was killed.

Atkinson initially was charged with first-degree murder in the woman’s slaying and could have faced life in prison.