Liam McAtasney found guilty of murdering childhood friend Sarah Stern

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A Monmouth County jury has convicted a Neptune man in the murder of his former high school classmate and childhood friend.

Liam McAtasney, 21, was found guilty of murder, felony murder and five other related charges in the death of his former friend and classmate Sarah Stern, who was then 19 years old.

Deliberations started Monday, with the jury asking to review several videos presented during the trial, including a secretly recorded video in which McAtasney describes in great detail to a friend how Stern died and what he and Taylor did to her body after she was dead.

Deliberations continued Tuesday, with the jury coming to a decision after only a few hours.

RELATED: 1st day of Sarah Stern murder trial deliberations ends without verdict 
RELATED: Defense, prosecution make final cases ahead of deliberations in Stern murder trial 

Prosecutors said McAtasney strangled Stern inside her Neptune Township home in December 2016 in order to steal money that she recently inherited. McAtasney and his friend and roommate Preston Taylor then threw Stern’s body off the Route 35 Bridge in Belmar into the Shark River below.

McAtasney and Taylor left Stern’s car at the bridge and staged it to look like she had jumped from the bridge in an act of suicide.

Stern was reported missing following her death, leading to a large search effort by friends and family. McAtasney and Taylor participated in the search effort, with McAtasney even giving interviews to media outlets about her disappearance.

Stern’s body has never been found.


Police eventually named McAtasney and Taylor as suspects in Stern’s disappearance and charged them with her murder.

Taylor pleaded guilty to his role in the crime and testified for the prosecution. He faces up to 20 years in prison as part of the plea deal.

McAtasney now faces life in prison without the possibility of parole at sentencing.

 

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