A Tucson man accused of strangling his roommate and putting her body in a suitcase he threw in a trash bin was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison Wednesday.

Roy Octavious Tennyson, 42, pleaded no contest to manslaughter in April for the July 2012 slaying of 49-year-old Deanna Barnum.

Barnum had just gotten her life back on track and was living with Tennyson and his girlfriend after meeting the couple at Occupy Tucson, Chief Criminal Deputy County Attorney Kellie Johnson told Pima County Superior Court Judge Gus Aragon at the sentencing hearing.

Evidence suggested Tennyson wanted money to buy drugs, which led to an argument between him and Barnum, Johnson said.

Johnson asked Aragon to sentence Tennyson to the aggravated term of 12 1/2 years because of the emotional impact Barnum's death had on her family, the manner in which Barnum was killed and her body was disposed of, and because of Tennyson's criminal history.

Sandra BarMcQ, Barnum's mother, phoned in to the hearing from New Mexico and said she constantly thinks about what her daughter's last moments were.

"No parent should lose a child this way," BarMcQ said.

Tennyson's defense attorney, Kevin Burke, asked for the presumptive sentence of five years in prison, because Tennyson does not have a history of violence, was abused as a child and moved from foster home to group homes and has mental-health issues.

Tennyson declined to address the court at the hearing.

Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at vcruz@azstarnet.com or at 573-4224.