An East Orange man with a history of domestic violence who admitted to killing his former girlfriend has been sentenced to 30-years in prison, Union County Prosecutor William Daniel announced.

Tyler Rios, 28, formerly of Highland Park, accepted a plea deal in April, stemming from the deadly incident that was part of a wide scale Amber Alert nearly one year ago.

On Friday, Union County Superior Court Judge John Deitch handed down a 25-year sentence on the aggravated manslaughter conviction and a 5-year sentence for desecrating human remains.

Yasemin Uyar, Sebastian Rios
Yasemin Uyar, Sebastian Rios (Uyar family)
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The July 2021 incident involved law enforcement at the local, state and federal levels.

When young Sebastian Rios, then 2, did not show up for daycare and Yasemin Uyar did not arrive for work, Rahway police went to the 24-year-old mother’s residence on July 9— but found no one there.

State Police issued an Amber Alert and a day later, the toddler was found, physically unharmed, with his father in a hotel in Putnam County, Tennessee.

Tyler Rios was taken into custody before investigators found Uyar’s body in a wooded area off a highway.

Prosecutors said Rios killed his ex-girlfriend in her own home, before putting her body in the trunk of Uyar’s car and then driving it nearly 800 miles away.

Based on autopsy results, Uyar died from strangulation and blunt force trauma.

Rios has an extensive history of domestic violence, based on court records, including a 2018 charge of trying to strangle a victim.

According to the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence, someone accused of choking a partner is seven times more likely to kill someone later — and in roughly 43% of domestic violence homicides, the victim survived being strangled within a year before their death.

Rios spent several months in county jail during the pandemic in 2020. In those cases, judges never sent him to prison, always releasing him with conditions of probation.

Days after Uyar's body was found, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law increasing potential punishment for non-fatal strangulation. Convicted abusers can now face up to 10 years in state prison.

Rios must serve at least 85% of the longer term — or 21 and a half years — before the possibility of parole on that count. He then must serve the 5-year term before being eligible for release, the judge ruled.

Uyar's mother, Karen, has shared her daughter's struggles on social media since taking custody of her grandson, as well as the link to an online petition called "Justice for Yasemin Uyar."

"The current laws in place to protect individuals from their abusers need to be reevaluated and updated. Restraining orders need to come with harsher punishments," according to the Change.org petition started by Jacqui Pscolka, which has been signed over 17,000 times.

"Violent offenders need to be watched, regulated and frequently evaluated," she added, saying "a 30-year plea-bargain "is far too short for the lives destroyed and crimes committed" by Rios.

With previous reporting by Sergio Bichao and Rick Rickman

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at erin.vogt@townsquaremedia.com

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