Man accused of killing Sarah Stern indicted — as admitted accomplice turns on him
FREEHOLD — A grand jury has indicted Liam McAtasney in the murder of Sarah Stern.
The indictment comes the same day that co-defendant Preston Taylor accepted a plea deal from Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni, and told a court he'd helped McAtasney dispose of her body by dumping it off a Route 35 bridge.
McAtasney, 19, of Neptune City who faces the possibility of life without parole if found guilty at trial.
McAtasney has been indicted on charges of first-degree murder, robbery and felony murder, as well as second-degree conspiracy, disturbing or desecrating human remains, hindering apprehension and fourth-degree tampering with physical evidence.
He allegedly told Taylor in advance of his plans to rob Stern, and the two feigned ignorance after her high-profile disappearance — even joining search parties for the missing young woman.
Taylor, 19, earlier on Monday told Judge Richard English in chilling detail that he helped McAtasney throw Stern's body off the on Dec. 2 after leaving the car she drove, her grandmother's Oldsmobile, parked on the shoulder to make it look like a suicide.
"She was killed by Liam and we threw her body off the Belmar bridge," Taylor said under questioning from prosecutor Christopher Decker.
He also said McAtasney told him to tell anyone who asked about Stern's disappearance to make it seem like she had a falling out with her father, prompting her to kill herself.
Taylor said the pair agreed to split up $10,000 taken from a safe in the Stern home. He’d been promised $3,000, he said.
Taylor said they two moved the cash from the Sterns' own safe into another belonging to McAtasney. The Stern safe was buried in Shark River Park in Wall Township, he said. McAtasney’s safe was buried in Sandy hook, Taylor said. Authorities later turned up both.
McAtasney's attorney has maintained his client is innocent, but a judge has ruled McAtasney will remain jailed pending his trial.
Dino Flammia contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
More from New Jersey 101.5