TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — A southern New Jersey man who fatally shot his girlfriend and tried to make it look like a suicide has been sentenced to life in prison.

Forty-year-old William McMillan of Lakewood also received a 20-year concurrent term on Friday for a weapons offense. He must serve 85 percent of his sentence—nearly 67 years—before becoming eligible for parole.

McMillan, who was convicted in June on murder charges by an Ocean County jury, has maintained his innocence and plans to appeal the verdict. He claims 26-year-old Shakita Crudup—the mother of four young children—was shot accidentally during a struggle for a handgun.

Authorities say that after the shooting occurred, McMillan put the loaded gun in Crudup’s hand and fled the home.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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