South Jersey man gets 55 years in slaying of co-worker on lunch break

A New Jersey man has been sentenced to 55 years in prison in the stabbing death of a co-worker authorities say was slain on her lunch break 3 1/2 years ago.

Kenneth Saal, 33, of Lindenwold pleaded guilty last fall in Middlesex County to first-degree murder and other charges in the June 2019 death of 26-year-old Carolyn Byington in her Plainsboro apartment.

Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez Jr. sentenced him last week to 45 years on murder and burglary charges and a consecutive 10-year sentence on conspiracy to commit murder and witness-tampering charges for a crime the judge called senseless, cruel and depraved.

The defendant and the victim had worked since 2016 at a business in Princeton, where he was an accountant and she was a market research project manager. In his plea, Saal said he copied the key to Byington's apartment, planted hidden surveillance cameras there and later killed her in a struggle to silence her.

Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone said he later conspired with another inmate to commit a copycat murder to make it appear the culprit was still free and also conspired to have a witness killed and the slaying staged as a suicide with a note claiming responsibility for Byington's murder.

Saal read a statement in court saying there were "no words to describe the atrociousness of what I’ve done." He also apologized to his family, saying he had put up a facade for his whole life that "kept you from seeing any warning signs."