SARAH STERN MISSING IS ALIVE IMAGES Q3DTBN AND9GCSYB4LD14J LQTH6-Z EIOZIDAQUC7Y9F-5KCZNQM3VGH8EB5XVVG PSYCHIC BRIAN LADD
iam McAtasney is likely to stand trial in Sarah Stern's murder in September after his new defense attorney said he doesn't plan to appeal a ruling allowing a jury to view a recording of his client confessing to the crime.
PREVIOUSLY: Judge rules jury can watch Liam McAtasney's videotaped confession
Superior Court Judge Richard W. English ruled late Friday that the videotaped confession can be shown to a jury. The videotape reportedly shows McAtasney telling an acquaintance that he choked the 19-year-old Stern, stole a safe from her Neptune City home and disposed of her body off of the Belmar Bridge in 2016.
McAtasney's defense attorney, Carlos Diaz Cobo, who only recently got into the case, said he won't appeal the judge's ruling.
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English, at a conference Monday at which he reiterated Friday's ruling, scheduled the next conference in the case for June 18 and announced a potential trial date for the second week of September.
Meanwhile, the victim's father, Michael Stern, who attended the conference, said a small group of family and friends held a memorial atop the Belmar bridge on Saturday to commemorate what would have been Sarah's 21st birthday.
"We just wanted to do something for Sarah's birthday,'' he said after Monday's court proceeding. "We press onward.''
Diaz-Cobo said he plans to review the voluminous evidence in the criminal case with his client and, after that, "we'll make a decision on how we want to go forward.'' He said he expects a trial date of Sept. 10.
Authorities allege that McAtasney, 20, of Neptune City, strangled his former high school classmate in her home on Dec. 2, 2016, stole about $10,000 from her and, with the help of his roommate, Preston Taylor, drove her body to the Belmar bridge and dumped it in the Shark River, leaving her car atop the span to make it look like she committed suicide.
Stern's body has never been recovered.
Stern's disappearance remained a mystery until Anthony Curry, an acquaintance of McAtasney, came forward to authorities in January 2017 and told them of a conversation McAtasney had with him the previous Thanksgiving. Curry told authorities that McAtasney, in the Thanksgiving conversation, outlined a plan to kill Stern, steal some money she recently came into and throw her body off the bridge.
On Jan, 31, 2017, Curry met McAtasney in Bradley Beach and recorded a conversation in which McAtasney reportedly confessed to doing just that.
McAtasney's previous attorneys, Charles Moriarty and Kevin Moriarty, filed motions last year seeking to exclude McAtasney's confession, as well as phone calls and Snapchat and text messages between Curry and McAtasney.
Ruling that the recording and messages could be presented to a jury, English said that McAtasney appeared boastful as he told Curry the story of what happened to Stern.
McAtasney and Taylor, who was Stern's date for the junior prom, were arrested and charged with Stern's murder the day after Curry recorded the confession.
Taylor, 20, of Neptune, has admitted helping McAtasney dispose of the body and has agreed to testify against his former roommate.
English said the next court date in June will be the deadline for McAtasney to take a plea bargain. If he doesn't, a September trial date is likely to be set, the judge said.
McAtasney faces life in prison without the possibility of release on parole if he is convicted of Stern's murder.