‘LMAO.’ How a Colloquial Acronym Posted to Facebook Could Derail a New Jersey Murder Trial
A commonly used acronym on social media has thrust a New Jersey murder trial into disarray.
After weeks of testimony and debate, a New Jersey judge could decide on Thursday to call a case against Liam McAtasney a mistrial after a juror posted to Facebook that she was “sitting on the jury LMAO.” According to BuzzFeed News, which earlier covered the story, the judge last week removed the juror from the trial after her post was discovered. The comment was left on a news story about the trial that was published to the social media site.
The judge reportedly asked the entire jury if they had seen the comment on Facebook, and five of them said that they had known about the post but didn’t actually see it. Now, the attorney for McAtasney, who is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole, is seeking a mistrial over the comment and concerns over jurors being influenced by social media.
The McAtasney trial started in January. The 21-year-old McAtasney has been accused of strangling childhood friend Sarah Stern and hiding her body to steal $10,000 in inheritance money she had hidden at her home, reports BuzzFeed News. In total, he faces seven charges, including first-degree murder and desecrating human remains. His roommate Preston Taylor had been accused of helping him commit the crime. Taylor took a plea deal and agreed to testify against McAtasney, according to the report.
Now, though, the case could be halted and a new trial against McAtasney pushed back indefinitely. Judge Richard English will make his mistrial decision on Thursday.