1st day of Sarah Stern murder trial deliberations ends without verdict

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FREEHOLD -

The first day of jury deliberations in the trial of a man accused of strangling a former high school classmate and throwing her body off a Monmouth County bridge ended without a verdict.

Monmouth County prosecutors allege that 21-year-old Liam McAtasney killed then-19-year-old Sarah Stern during a December 2016 robbery and then recruited his friend and roommate Preston Taylor to help dispose of the body. Jurors viewed a secretly recorded conversation in which McAtasney appears to discuss how he killed Stern.

Taylor pleaded guilty to his role in the crime and testified for the prosecution. He testified that he and McAtasney threw Stern's body off the Route 35 Bridge, leaving her car there to make it look like she killed herself.

RELATED: Defense, prosecution make final cases ahead of deliberations in Stern murder trial 
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The defense claims there's no physical evidence to support the accusations against McAtasney, who chose not testify on his own behalf. They claim the secret video was actually McAtasney describing the plot of a horror movie.

Jurors spent most of Monday being read the 57-page document from the judge before they were able to begin deliberations, which started just after 3 p.m. Around 4:45 p.m. the jury came back to the courtroom with questions, asking to see the video again.

The jury was dismissed for the day, with deliberations expected to pick up Tuesday.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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