New Jersey man convicted of strangling childhood friend

A New Jersey man faces life in prison after a jury found him guilty Tuesday of strangling his former high school classmate and throwing her body off a bridge.

Liam McAtasney, 21, was convicted of the December 2016 murder of 19-year-old Sarah Stern in Neptune City, N.J., as well as robbery, desecration of human remains, conspiracy to desecrate human remains and hindering apprehension.

The Monmouth County jury had begun deliberations on Monday and had asked to review a secretly recorded conversation in which McAtasney discussed Stern's death with a friend, Anthony Curry.

McAtasney told Curry in the video that he “pretty much hung [Stern]” and then shoved a shirt down the victim's throat and placed his finger on her nose.

"It took me a half hour to kill her," said McAtasney, who added that he had "set a timer," and claimed Stern’s dog “laid there and watched as I killed her.”

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McAtasney also said that while he made off with $10,000 from the crime, he expected to come away with much more.

"I thought I was going to come out $50,000 to $100,000 in my pocket. She had one safe that she took money out, and she only had $10,000," said McAtasney, who told Curry that the cash was of "terrible quality ... I don’t even know if I can put any of it in the f------ bank."

Defense attorney Carlos Diaz-Cobo, who vowed to appeal Tuesday's verdict, said the description of Stern's death was an elaborate lie McAtasney told to impress Curry, an amateur horror filmmaker.

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McAtasney's roommate, Preston Taylor, testified that he helped the suspect throw Stern's body off the bridge in Belmar and left Stern's car nearby with the key inside to make it look like a suicide.

The defense claimed there was no physical evidence against McAtasney, who declined to testify in his defense.

Stern's body has never been found. McAtasney is due to be sentenced May 24.

Fox News' Kathleen Joyce and The Associated Press contributed to this report.