Judge denies defense’s motion for new trial in Sarah Stern murder case

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FREEHOLD -

A man convicted of strangling a former high school classmate and throwing her body off a bridge has lost his bid for a new trial.

Liam McAtasney's lawyer cited several reasons why the request was warranted, including claims the trial was unfairly prejudiced by a Facebook post made in a juror's name that included a flippant comment about the trial.

But Superior Court Judge Richard English rejected all the arguments in a ruling issued Friday, saying there was significant evidence to show the verdict wasn't "a miscarriage of justice."

McAtasney was convicted in February of murder and other counts related to the death of Sarah Stern, his former high school classmate and friend. He was supposed to have been sentenced Friday. He faces a mandatory life term when he's sentenced on June 14.

RELATED: Liam McAtasney found guilty of murdering childhood friend Sarah Stern 

Monmouth County prosecutors said McAtasney killed 19-year-old Stern during a December 2016 robbery. During the trial, they played a secretly recorded conversation in which he discussed Stern's killing.

Officials say that McAtasney’s friend and roommate Preston Taylor also participated in the crime. Taylor pleaded guilty and testified for the prosecution. He will also be sentenced on June 14.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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