A New Jersey man has reportedly been sentenced to 18 years behind bars in connection with the murder of 19-year-old Sarah Stern.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, 21-year-old Liam McAtasney was convicted in February on a range of counts including murder and robbery for the violent crime that left a former schoolmate stabbed to death in late 2016. Preston Taylor, 22, pleaded guilty in 2017 to acting as an accessory to the attempted armed robbery in Neptune City.
The victim’s body was reportedly dumped in a river but has still not been recovered.
According to the Asbury Park Press, Taylor — motivated to help McAtasney by the promise of a $10,000 payday after the robbery — appeared in court on Friday for sentencing and learned he would be required to serve 85 percent of his sentence before he will be eligible for parole.
He offered an apology for his role in the crime, including a message directly to Stern’s father, Michael, who responded by leaving the courtroom for the duration of his address.
“I should have known better and done something to stop this and I wish more than anything I had,” Taylor said. “I’m sorry.”
Stern reportedly went to prom with Taylor, who described her as “a very beautiful young woman who didn’t in any way deserve the end [she] met.”
The courtroom address included a specific apology to “Mr. Stern and all those who had the blessing of knowing Sarah.”
In his reaction, Superior Court Judge Richard W. English said it is “clear” that Taylor didn’t physically kill the victim, adding that he “did everything but put his hands around her neck.”
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[Feature Photo: Family Handout/Neptune PD]