Sarah Stern killer Liam McAtasney sentenced to life in prison

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A man convicted of strangling an ex-classmate and throwing her body off a bridge has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Liam McAtasney received his sentence Friday. He was convicted in February of the murder of high school classmate Sarah Stern.

Monmouth County prosecutors said McAtasney strangled the 19-year-old Stern during a December 2016 robbery and then dumped her body off the Route 35 Bridge in Belmar, leaving her car on the bridge to make it look like a suicide. Stern's body has never been found.

McAtasney was convicted in February of murder, robbery and other counts including desecration of human remains.

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During his trial, jurors heard a secretly recorded conversation in which McAtasney talked about Stern's death and how it took her a half-hour to die.

Stern’s father Michael Stern spoke during the sentencing hearing and told McAtasney how he has suffered since his daughter disappeared.

“Since the day my daughter went missing, I’ve had horrific dreams and nightmares. I’ve been unable to get meaningful sleep since Sarah went missing. Many days I can’t function at all,” Michael Stern said.

No one spoke on McAtasney’s behalf during the hearing. He was seen getting emotional at times.

“This just ends the last chapter in the book that is the notorious killer that Liam McAtasney is. He’ll go down in history as one of Monmouth County’s most heinous killers,” says Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni. “I will personally say that I am heartened to see that he’s never going to see the light of day.”

Preston Taylor – McAtasney’s roommate, as well as a former classmate to Stern – helped to dispose of Stern’s body. He pleaded guilty and testified for the prosecution. He is expected to be sentenced June 28 and could receive up to 20 years in prison.

McAtasney’s attorney says that he plans to file an appeal.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

 

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