A New Jersey man who was convicted in February of murdering his high school classmate is seeking a new trial due to a dismissed juror’s “LMAO” Facebook post.
Liam McAtasney, 21, was found guilty of murder, robbery, desecration of human remains, conspiracy to desecrate human remains, tampering with evidence, and hindering apprehension for the November 2016 slaying of Sarah Stern, 19. McAtasney strangled Stern at her Neptune City home to steal her inheritance then dumped her body over the Route 35 bridge into the Shark River.
McAtasney’s roommate who admitted to helping dump Stern’s body, Preston Taylor, testified that McAtasney believed there was as much as $100,000 in a shoebox which was left behind by Stern’s late mother. However, most of the money, which was actually $8,000, was unusable as it was old and burned.
Instead of sentencing on May 24, McAtasney’s attorney’s will be arguing why their client deserves a new trial. n a 20-page letter to Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Richard English, defense attorney Carlos Diaz-Cobo referred to a juror who responded, “I’m on this trial lmao” to a Facebook post with an article about the proceedings. According to NJ.com, the post resulted in that juror’s dismissal.
“The remainder of her statements show that she was not able to function as an impartial juror,” the defense attorney wrote.
The Asbury Park Press reported that McAtasney’s legal team listed a myriad of other reasons why they’re seeking a new trial: jurors allegedly overheard a court employee say he’s “guilty, guilty, guilty” before hearing the judge’s instructions; defense attorneys weren’t provided with an expert witness’ report within 30 days before the trial; questions regarding a lack of a body (Stern’s body was never found) during jury selection tainted the pool; the judge unjustly barred the defense from cross-examining a detective; and that there wasn’t a robbery since McAtasney took the money hours after the murder.
NJ.com reported that prosecutors are expected to file their response on Wednesday.
[Featured image: Liam McAtasney/Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office; Sarah Stern/Facebook]