Friend pleads not guilty in missing teen’s murder

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The former friend of a 19-year-old Neptune City teen who went missing last year has pleaded not guilty to her murder.

Liam McAtasney, 19, entered his pleas Monday during a brief court hearing. He is accused of killing Sarah Stern, a high school classmate.

Prosecutors say that McAtasney killed Stern over $10,000 on Dec. 2 and recruited his friend Preston Taylor, 19, to help him dispose of Stern’s body by throwing it off a bridge in Belmar into the Shark River.

Taylor pleaded guilty last month and admitted to helping McAtasney. Taylor said he would have been given $3,000 for helping to dispose of Stern’s body.

McAtasney and Taylor were among nearly 100 people who volunteered to help search for Stern after her car was found by the bridge. Prosecutors have said the duo participated in the search to deflect suspicion.

Monmouth County prosecutors will seek a life sentence with no chance of parole for McAtasney.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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