Did the Lord's Prayer doom Preston Taylor to a longer prison sentence for his role in the Sarah Stern murder?

The admitted accomplice of the 19-year-old's convicted killer was sentenced to 18 years in prison. The 22-year-old had been facing up to 20 years as a result of a plea deal for helping prosecutors lock up his friend for the rest of his life.

An attorney for Taylor has filed a motion asking for a reduction in his sentence, according to Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Chris Swendeman, who said a hearing on the matter is scheduled for Aug. 23.

Swendeman said the Prosecutor's Office is not making the motion available to the public.

Attorney John Perrone told the Asbury Park Press that the motion claims Judge Richard W. English put “undue weight” on Taylor's writing the Lord’s Prayer at the bottom of his bunk at the Monmouth County Jail, which is considered an act of vandalism.

Stern's father said Taylor also should have gotten life in prison but Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said Taylor's cooperation was vital to the case.

"There are situations where, unfortunately, you have to get in the mud with people that are culpable for the crimes that you’re trying to prosecute," Gramiccioni said after the sentencing last month. "I’m confident but for that assistance and cooperation we would have struggled to make the conviction against Liam McAtasney and be able to ensure that he stays in prison for the rest of his life without a chance of parole."

McAtasney was sentenced on June 21 to life in prison with no chance of parole. He was sentenced to concurrent terms of 20 years for first-degree robbery and five years for third-degree hindering. He must first serve a consecutive 10-year sentence for disturbing or desecrating human remains. It was the mandatory sentence for the conviction in the December 2016 slaying.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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