What to Know
- A judge has dismissed one of the jurors in the trial of a man accused of strangling his high school classmate Sarah Stern
- The female juror was dismissed for a Facebook posting that stated, ''Sitting on the jury laughing my a— off"
- Defense lawyers for the accused man, Liam McAtasney, are now seeking a mistrial. The judge will rule on the mistrial request on Thursday
The dismissal of a juror over a social media post has spurred defense lawyers to seek a mistrial for a man accused of strangling former high school classmate Sarah Stern during a robbery and throwing her body off a bridge.
Superior Court Judge Richard English removed the juror last Thursday and informed the remaining 15 jurors of his decision on Wednesday, as the murder trial of Liam McAtasney was due to resume.
The judge then spoke individually with each juror about the post and the dismissal, then eventually excused them for the day after the mistrial request was made.
The female juror was dismissed for a Facebook posting that stated, ''Sitting on the jury laughing my a— off."
The judge will rule on the mistrial request on Thursday.
The trial for McAtasney, one of two defendants in the case of 19-year-old Stern, began in January.
During opening remarks, Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Meghan Doyle said she planned to describe how McAtasney strangled Stern inside her Neptune City home on Dec. 2, 2016.
Prosecutors say McAtasney and the second defendant, Preston Taylor — who took Stern to junior prom — dragged Stern's body out of her home after the murder, drove her to a bridge and tossed her into the water. Her body was never found.
Stern, an aspiring artist, was a graduate of Neptune High School, where she played softball and was a member of the swim team. She went to Brookdale Community College for a year, where she studied art and TV production.
Prosecutors have said McAtasney was motivated by robbery in part and stole thousands of dollars from Stern. Cash was found in a safe buried at a park in Neptune. Stern's clothing was found in another safe buried on Sandy Hook.
A grand jury has indicted McAtasney on seven counts, including first-degree murder, the prosecutor's office said. He faces life without parole if convicted.