FREEHOLD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A jury on Tuesday found a New Jersey man guilty of strangling his childhood friend and dumping her body in a plot to steal her inheritance money.
Prosecutors said 21-year-old Liam McAtasney killed 19-year-old Sarah Stern inside her Neptune City home in December 2016. He and his roommate, Preston Taylor, then dumped her body off the Belmar Bridge.
WATCH: Prosecutors Discuss Verdict In Sarah Stern Trial
McAtasney and Taylor were after Stern’s inheritance money from her late mother, according to prosecutors.
Stern’s body was never found. Her father wept at the trial’s conclusion Tuesday.
“Sarah’s up in heaven, she’s an angel,” he said. “She was a great kid. It never should have ended like this.”
Earlier this month, prosecutors showed the jury what they called a confession from McAtasney. His friend, Andrew Curry, secretly recorded it two months after Stern disappeared.
In the chilling video, McAtasney describes how long it took to strange Stern. Defense attorney Carlos Diaz-Cobo called the secretly recorded conversation an elaborate lie McAtasney told to impress Curry, an amateur horror filmmaker.
Assistant Prosecutor Megan Doyle believes the video swayed the jury.
“It’s hard because he laughed through most of it, there was no emotion from him,” she said. “As prosecutors it does make you angry that there’s no remorse. There was no nothing, and he was so dismissive of what he did.”
“It started off as plans to either burglarize her house or to rob her personally,” he testified. “Over time the conversations progressed to killing her.”
McAtasney was convicted of murder, robbery and other counts including desecration of human remains. His sentencing is set for May, where he’ll be facing life in prison.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)