Prosecutor: One Guilty Plea in Sarah Stern Murder

As part of a plea agreement, one of two area teen suspects implicated in the Sarah Stern murder agreed to testify against the co-defendant in exchange for a guilty plea to seven charges, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said in a released statement.

Taylor also agreed in a plea agreement to testify against codefendant Liam McAtasney in the murder of Stern, the statement said

Preston Taylor, 19, of Neptune City, pleaded guilty Monday morning before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Richard W. English to: first-degree robbery, second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, second-degree disturbing or desecrating human remains, two counts of third-degree hindering apprehension and fourth-degree tampering with physical evidence, it added.

Taylor faces up to 20 years in a New Jersey state prison and is subject to the No Early Release Act. He agreed to testify against Liam McAtasney, the co-defendent in the case, according to the prosecutor.

The case background …

Taylor and McAtasney, both 19 and from Neptune City, were charged on Feb. 2 in connection with the murder of Stern, who was last seen alive on Dec. 2, 2016.

McAtasney was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder, first-degree robbery, second-degree desecration of human remains, second-degree conspiracy (to desecrate human remains) and second-degree hindering apprehension.

An investigation revealed that McAtasney was responsible for killing Stern and stealing property from her on Dec. 2, 2016. The investigation also showed that Taylor provided assistance to McAtasney in moving and ultimately disposing of Stern’s body in order to avoid detection.

On Feb. 7, Monmouth County Superior Court Judge David Bauman detained Taylor during a detention hearing. Bauman’s decision was appealed, but the state Appellate Division has affirmed Taylor’s detention and he will remain detained pending trial.

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