Testimony ends in murder trial of man charged with strangling childhood friend

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Testimony has concluded in the murder trial of a man accused of strangling a former high school classmate during a robbery and throwing her body off a Monmouth County bridge.

County prosecutors say Liam McAtasney thought he was going to get $100,000 from the robbery but only got about $8,000. They showed jurors a secretly recorded conversation in which McAtasney appears to discuss how he killed 19-year-old Sarah Stern in December 2016.

Another former classmate testified that he and McAtasney threw Stern's body off the bridge, leaving her car there to make it look like she killed herself. Preston Taylor previously pleaded guilty to his role in the crime and agreed to testify against McAtasney.

RELATED: Defense witness says he saw Sarah Stern alive after she was reported missing 
RELATED: Judge dismisses 2nd juror; denies mistrial request in Sarah Stern murder trial 

A police detective testified during the trial that Taylor led investigators to the spot where he and McAtasney allegedly buried a safe containing the money stolen from Stern.

The defense claims there is no physical evidence to support the accusations against McAtasney. The defense argued that the secret recording playing during the trial was actually McAtasney describing the plot to a horror movie to his friend who is a filmmaker.

McAtasney told Judge Richard English Thursday that he would not testify on his own behalf.

Closing arguments are due to start Friday.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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