Jurors hear chilling, grisly confession in Sarah Stern trial in New Jersey

BELMAR, N.J. -- Jurors heard a chilling confession made by the man accused of murdering his childhood friend and dumping her body off a bridge in New Jersey.

Authorities say Liam McAtasney strangled 19-year-old Sarah Stern in her Neptune City home before disposing of her body in the Shark River in Belmar.

Anthony Curry, an amateur filmmaker and good friend of McAtasney, came forward to authorities in January 2017, about a month after the murder. He testified that McAtasney had approached him the previous Thanksgiving with his plan to kill Stern and steal money left to her when her mother had passed away.

After Stern's disappearance, Curry went to police, who had him contact McAtasney and arrange a face-to-face meeting.

In the secret video recording set up in Curry's car, McAtasney allegedly admitted in graphic detail choking Stern for a half an hour, stealing her safe and throwing her body off the bridge with accomplice Preston Taylor's help.

Taylor has pleaded guilty and already testified against McAtasney.

In the alleged confession, McAtasney described Stern going into convulsion and taking a half hour to die.

He said the biggest problem was Stern's dog, which "laid there and watched as I killed her."

McAtasney then described throwing Stern's body off a bridge. Her body has never been found.

While the video confession was being played, Stern's father sat in the courtroom being consoled by family members as he trembled and cried.

Prosecutors allege that McAtasney killed Stern over roughly $8,000 that was in her home. He apparently thought he was going to get $100,000 but was mistaken about the amount of cash, Assistant Prosecutor Meghan Doyle previously told jurors.

Stern was last seen at her home on the night of December 2, 2016. Hours later, her unoccupied vehicle was found on the Route 35 Bridge over the Shark River Inlet with the keys still in the ignition. Her body has never been found.

Authorities believe McAtasney dumped the body with the help of Taylor, who was Stern's former prom date and McAtasney's roommate at the time.

Taylor said McAtasney told him that Stern had the "type of money somebody would kill for" and that the plan was to get her drunk and take the money left to her by her mother, who had died while they were all in high school.
The defense claims there is no physical evidence to support the accusations.

If convicted. McAtasney faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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