Man on trial for killing of classmate driven to tears during testimony

Posted: Updated:
FREEHOLD -

A man on trial for the murder of a former high school classmate and childhood friend appeared to be driven to tears during testimony.

Liam McAtasney is on trial for allegedly strangling Sarah Stern, his former high school classmate, in order to steal money she had inherited.

McAtasney’s former coworker, a waitress at Brennan's Steakhouse in Neptune City, testified that McAtasney left work for a time on the night that Stern was last seen in December 2016. The defendant appeared to be wiping away tears during the testimony.

Jurors also continued to hear testimony from Preston Taylor, one of the prosecutor’s star witnesses. Taylor admitted to helping McAtasney dispose of Stern’s body after she was killed. Taylor pleaded guilty as part of an agreement to testify at the trial.

McAtasney’s defense attorney Carlos Diaz-Cobo spent less than an hour cross-examining Taylor, and attempted to paint a picture of Taylor as a liar and someone that jurors should not believe.

RELATED: ‘He stuffed a scarf down her throat’ – Trial begins for man accused of killing childhood friend 

"And you testified yesterday that the cooperation agreement [with prosecutors] called for truthfulness right? But you don't always tell the truth?” Cobo asked.

“I haven’t in the past,” Taylor replied.

But on redirect, Assistant Monmouth Prosecutor Chris Decker made it clear that Taylor knew that if he lied on the stand, his plea agreement would be null and he could face 30 years to life in prison.

Jurors also heard testimony about how Taylor and McAtasney bought walkie-talkies, allegedly used to communicate plans to kill Stern without leaving evidence on a cellphone.

Family and friends of Stern testified that, although her relationship with her father may have been strained at times, and she said she wanted to move to Canada, she made no indications she wanted to kill herself.

Jurors are expected to soon hear from another prosecutorial witness – another classmate of McAtasney who secretly recorded McAtasney allegedly confessing to the murder and the cover-up.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."