Preston Taylor sentenced to 18 years for role in Sarah Stern's murder

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A Monmouth County man will serve at least 13 years in prison for his admitted role in the murder of a former high school classmate.

Preston Taylor was sentenced to 18 years in prison Friday after he admitted to helping his friend and roommate Liam McAtasney dispose of the body of Sarah Stern – their friend since childhood.

Taylor pleaded guilty to his role in the crime as part of a plea deal and testified for the prosecution in McAtasney’s trial. Taylor admitted to helping McAtasney throw Stern’s body off the Route 35 Bridge in Belmar after McAtasney killed Stern in order to steal money she recently found. The two men left Stern’s car on the bridge to stage her disappearance to look like a suicide.

McAtasney was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

MORE: Sarah Stern killer Liam McAtasney sentenced to life in prison

Taylor spoke at his sentencing hearing and apologized to the Stern’s family.

“I should have known better and done something to stop this. I wish I had. I’m sorry,” he said.

But Stern’s father, Michael Stern, did not wish to hear Taylor’s words and walked out of the courtroom.

“I don’t want to hear anything from him. He had the opportunity – he had many opportunities…to stop it. He had the opportunity not to participate. There's nothing good there. It's evil, just evil,” said Michael Stern.

Taylor was to receive no more than 20 years in prison as part of the deal to testify against McAtasney. He received 18 with the possibility of parole in 13 years.

Michael Stern said that he wished the sentenced was longer.

“That’s part of the justice system, tough to deal with. It doesn’t bring Sarah back,” he said.

Michael Stern says that he is now focusing on setting up a scholarship in his daughter’s name to keep her memory alive.

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