Opening statements set to begin for man accused of killing childhood friend

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Opening statements are set to begin Wednesday in the trial of a Monmouth County man accused of killing his childhood friend.

Liam McAtasney is accused of strangling Sarah Stern in her home and then dumping her body in the Shark River. Prosecutors say that McAtasney killed Stern over $10,000 that he knew was in her home.

Stern was last seen Dec. 2, 2016. Police found her car the next day abandoned on the Route 35 Bridge.

Authorities say that they believe that McAtasney and his roommate Preston Taylor dumped the body off the bridge and into the Shark River inlet. Stern’s body has never been found.

RELATED: Jury selection begins in trial of man accused of killing childhood friend 
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McAtasney and Taylor were arrested Feb. 1, 2017 and charged in connection with Stern’s death. All three of them went to high school together. Taylor and Stern went to the junior prom together.

Court documents revealed a supposed confession by McAtasney in which he told a friend that he has been planning the murder for six months.

MORE: Grand jury indicts Liam McAtasney in murder of missing Neptune City teen Sarah Stern 

In April 2017, Taylor pleaded guilty to his role in the murder. He was supposedly going to get a $3,000 cut for helping McAtasney dispose of Stern’s body. Taylor is expected to testify for the prosecution in McAtasney’s trial.

The murder and revelation of the plot left many in the community shocked.

Stern’s father told News 12 New Jersey that he has a hard time coming to grips with what happened.

“Just pure evil. People who I thought were friends with my daughter that could do anything like this even participate in it, all I see is evil,” says Michael Stern.

Stay with News 12 New Jersey for updates as the trial continues.

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