Man gets 20-year prison term for strangling ex-girlfriend

VINELAND, N.J. (AP) — A southern New Jersey man who strangled his ex-girlfriend has been sentenced to 20 years in state prison, authorities said.

Ismael Pierce apologized to Britton Loyden's family during his sentencing on Friday. He had pleaded guilty in June to aggravated manslaughter in the death of Loyden, 23, whose body was found in February 2012 in a bedroom at her Vineland home.  Loyden's body was discovered one day after she and the couple's 1-year-old son were reported missing by her mother. Vineland police later determined the child was unharmed and with Pierce.

Authorities have said Pierce left Britton's body in her house — which was still filled with balloons and gifts from her recent birthday party — for more than a day and used her car to drive around.

When police found Pierce in Britton's home with their son, Pierce told them Britton had left and he didn't know where she was. When the officers asked to enter the bedroom, Pierce led them there and threw a blanket onto the floor over an object in front of them, from under which one detective could see a foot.

Authorities said he then turned, pulled the blanket up, and shouted, "Oh my god, oh my god, what happened to her?"