A 22-year-old man from New Jersey who gave away the body of his junior prom date after his roommate murdered her to steal $ 10,000 from her was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Preston Taylor, from Neptune City, apologized in court on Friday for his role in the 2016 eager murder of 19-year-old Sarah Stern before Judge Richard W. English took over the sentence.
& # 39; There are so many things about this scenario that I wish I could take back & # 39 ;, Taylor said. & # 39; I should have known better and done something to stop this and I wish more than anything I had. I apologize. & # 39;
Case closed: Preston Taylor, 22 (left), was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Friday for assisting in dumping the body of childhood friend Sarah Stern (right) of the Route 35 bridge in Belmar, NJ
Sarah & # 39; s father, Michael Stern (shown in lavender shirt and tie) leaves the courtroom not to hear Taylor speak at his conviction hearing on Friday
Stern & # 39; s father, Michael, left the courtroom not to hear Taylor talk, he reported Asbury Park Press.
The judge ordered Taylor to serve 85 percent of his sentence before being eligible for parole, which means that he will have to spend more than 15 years behind bars before being eligible for release.
Taylor & # 39; s former roommate, Liam McAtasney, 21, was convicted in February of strangling his childhood friend, Stern, and was sentenced to life imprisonment without conditional release last week.
Taylor testified against McAtasney during his trial and pleaded guilty to six charges of theft and treatment of human remains.
In exchange for his full cooperation and testimony, prosecutors agreed not to let him commit a crime.
Taylor, who took Stern to junior ball, told the court that he had removed the 19-year-old's body from her home in Neptune City, a few hours after McAtasney strangled her on December 2, 2016.
He admitted helping McAtasney throw her body off the Route 35 bridge in Belmar before she left her car and keys to make death seem like a suicide.
Prosecutors claimed that McAtasney had strangled Stern in December 2016 and dumped her body with Taylor & # 39; s help from the Route 35 bridge in Belmar in an attempt to make the suicide appear.
The men 's goal was to steal what they thought was $ 100,000 in a home owned by the van Stern family.
McAtasney was also found guilty of stealing nearly $ 10,000. Stern & # 39; s mother had left her and buried it. A little more than a third of that amount had been promised to Taylor as his promise.
Prosecutors gave a lot to the justice of amateur filmmaker Anthony Curry, who came to the police in January 2017 – a month after the murder – to tell them about a strange interaction he had with McAtasney.
On Thanksgiving 2016, a week before Stern disappeared, Curry told McAtasney that he had suggested an horrible movie.
The plot line, consisting of killing a young girl and throwing her off the bridge with his boyfriend, came from an idea that McAtasney had specifically had, Curry said.
& # 39; I am a filmmaker. He always told me ideas about films that I had to make and all those things.
Liam McAtasney wipes the tears from his eyes during his conviction last month in the Superior Court of Monmouth County
& # 39; And he told me about this idea that he should kill this girl … that he was going to strangle her and throw her over the bridge with his friend & # 39 ;, he told interviews for a ABC News & # 39; 20/20 recorded in March.
It was only after Stern's disappearance that Curry thought he was talking about a real murder plan.
& # 39; I was like, & # 39; yes, he is kind of crazy. & # 39; But I don't know, I just thought it was a movie, & Curry said.
Shortly after Stern went missing, Curry said McAtasney started contacting him almost daily, and left him with the message & # 39; I have something to tell you & # 39 ;.
And after he sent a message to Curry asking if the police had questioned him about McAtasney's possible involvement in Stern's disappearance, Curry went straight to the police.
McAtasney discussed the murder with another classmate, Anthony Curry, in a secretly recorded conversation that was heard during the trial and was considered crucial evidence
McAtasney, (left), worked with Taylor, 22, (right), also a former classmate, trying to steal that they believed was $ 100,000 in a home owned by Stern & # 39; s family
There, New Jersey researchers asked the then 19-year-old to participate in a stab operation to record conversations with McAtasney in secret and to recall a confession.
Curry agreed, fearing that his own family might be in danger with McAtasney still in general.
In January 2017, police launched a series of visual and audio bugs in Curry's car and drove to McAtasney.
In the video, he described how it took her half an hour to die and that he had timed it on his phone.
The video was filmed a few days before McAtasney and his alleged accomplice, Preston Taylor, were accused in 2017 of killing the 19-year-old girl.
& # 39; I just about hung her, & # 39; McAtasney said to his friend Anthony Curry in the images.
Anthony Curry (above) agreed to help the police secretly record McAtasney about how he killed Sarah Stern in December 2016
Days after the footage was recorded, police interviewed Taylor where he immediately acknowledged his involvement (above)
& # 39; I picked her up and let her dangle from the ground. It took me half an hour to kill her. I have set a timer. & # 39;
He said the biggest problem was Stern's dog, but it just lay there and watched as I killed her.
McAtasney went in to tell his friend that he needed Taylor & # 39; s help to dump Stern & # 39; s body off the Route 35 bridge because he didn't realize how heavy it would be.
In the video, McAtasney also says that he thought he would get $ 100,000 by robbing Stern of her legacy after he killed her, but that he only had $ 8,000.
& # 39; The worst part is that I thought I would get $ 50,000 to $ 100,000 in my pocket. She had one safe in which she took money and she only had $ 10,000, & he said.
Taylor, who took Stern to the junior prom, (pictured in 2014), told the court during the trial that he had removed the 19-year-old's body from her home in Neptune City, a few hours after McAtasney had her on December 2, 2016 strangled.
Taylor pleaded guilty to six charges of theft and treatment of human remains. He is depicted as a witness to the persecution on January 23
& # 39; And this money, I don't know if it was burned or something, it's f ***** g old money. Terrible quality. I don't even know if I can put it in the f ***** g bank. & # 39;
McAtasney is also told that he tells Curry that Taylor would kill him if he snarled.
He claimed that Curry was the only person who knew about Stern's death alongside Taylor.
& # 39; I don't feel different, I really don't think about it, & # 39; McAtasney said. & # 39; You always think you're going to try and change all these new things, but it just doesn't do anything. It's weird.
McAtasney told Curry that he needed Taylor's help to dump Stern's body off the Route 35 bridge because he didn't realize how heavy it would be.
Curry replied: & # 39; It's a f ****** movie, man. & # 39;
McAtasney replied: & # 39; It's your life. You might as well make one. What are you going to live a boring ** life for? & # 39;
Curry came to the authorities in January 2017 after his father contacted a retired officer from the Bradley Beach department.
He testified in court in February that McAtasney first told him about his plans to strangle Stern on Thanksgiving in 2016.
He hadn't thought much about the conversation at the time, but he was worried when he heard that the woman had been reported missing on December 3, 2016.
Curry had attended high school with both Stern and McAtasney.
Stern and McAtasney had both been in the victim's house in Avon-by-the-Sea when she discovered a shoe box that was full of money from her deceased mother.
& # 39; He told me he would meet Sarah, she had found this money, & # 39; said Curry in the courtroom.
& # 39; They would count it together. He was going to choke her, strangle her out. Take her to the bridge, throw her away, and Preston would drive the escape vehicle. And they were going to bury the money and leave the keys in contact and make it look like she was committing suicide. & # 39;
The couple left Sarah & # 39; s car on the bridge to make it look like she was committing suicide. The police later found her abandoned car on the Belmar bridge in New Jersey (see above)
After Stern's disappearance, Curry said he and McAtasney agreed on Snapchat because of the ability to get rid of messages. Curry has recorded the content of those messages on video.
The reports led the Monmouth County attorneys to obtain a consensual admission order.
McAtasney & # 39; s lawyer, Carlos Diaz-Cobo, had interrogated with the guilty verdict for reasons including the fact that a body was never found and the evidence against him was largely indirect.
He had also brought the confession only as a story of an immature young man who is known for lies and a love of horror films, NJ.com reported.
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