Judge dismisses 2nd juror; denies mistrial request in Sarah Stern murder trial

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A Monmouth County judge has denied a request to declare a mistrial in the Sarah Stern murder trial but has dismissed a second juror.

The request for the mistrial by the defense attorney for Liam McAtasney came after it was revealed that Juror No. 13 posted about the case on social media. The post included an article by the Asbury Park Press, along with the post “Sitting on the jury LMAO.”

The juror has claimed her 15-year-old sister made the post, but she was dismissed anyway. Judge Richard English also dismissed Juror No. 14, who apparently made contact with Juror No. 13 through social media.

RELATED: Attorney seeks mistrial after murder trial juror’s social media post 
RELATED: ‘It took me a half-hour to kill her' - Secret recording played at Sarah Stern trial 

English also stated that Juror No. 13 will be facing contempt of court charges for breaking the rules.

McAtasney’s attorney argued that at least five jurors knew about the Facebook post and had conversations about the case, which is in violation of Judge English’s instructions. But prosecutors argued that the jurors only interacted about their personal relationships, which is allowed.

English denied the request for the mistrial. "I am confident the remaining 14 jurors are able to hear this case and make their decision based on evidence of this case alone and nothing else,” the judge said. “They all have indicated, as their oath indicates, they will be fair and impartial jurors.”

The second half of the day focused on testimony and the cross-examination of Monmouth County Prosecutor Detective Brian Weisbrot. Weisbrot was one of the first detectives to interview McAtasney before he was officially a suspect. Weisbrot also helped set up a hidden camera that captured an apparent confession made by McAtasney.

McAtasney is accused of strangling Stern, a former high school classmate, in December 2016 and throwing her body off the Route 35 Bridge in Belmar. Prosecutors say that he did this in order to steal money she had recently inherited.

The trial is expected to resume Wednesday.

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