Jury Convicts Assistant in Murder of Punk Pioneer - NBC New York

Jury Convicts Assistant in Murder of Punk Pioneer



    Jury Convicts Assistant in Murder of Punk Pioneer
    Natavia Lowery is questioned by police in the months following Stein's murder.

    A personal assistant accused of killing her boss, a top real estate agent with a punk rock past, has been found guilty of murder.

    A jury convicted Natavia Lowery today on 21 counts of murder, grand larcney, foregery and identity theft. 

    Lowery, 28, showed no reaction when the verdict was read.

    Prosecutors say Lowery beat Linda Stein to death with a piece of exercise equipment in October 2007. They say Lowery was desperate to conceal her theft of $30,000 from Stein, who co-managed the punk band the Ramones before brokering apartments for such clients as Madonna and Sting.

    "She is bold. She is not a yaysayer. She is somebody who does what she wants when she wants to," attorney Illuzzi-Orbon said during closing arguments.

    Lowery's lawyers, whom she tried to fire during the trial, have acknowledged the theft but say she had nothing to do with the bloody beating. They have noted surveillance video showing no blood on Lowery's clothes as she left Stein's Manhattan apartment building shortly after the estimated time of the slaying inside her Fifth Ave. apartment.

    But defense lawyer Thomas Giovanni told jurors in a closing argument Monday that police plied Lowery into giving her disputed confession during more than 12 hours of police questioning that spanned overnight.

    He noted that her videotaped statement conflicted with evidence that emerged later on matters including the number of blows in the fatal beating and whether Stein was smoking marijuana right before she died.

    "Every one of those facts (in her statement) is what the police thought and what they trained Natavia Lowery to say," Giovanni said. He told the jury that authorities were so bent on pursuing Lowery that they didn't fully investigate other potential suspects.

    Lowery's mother Lottie said they weren't surpised by the verdict. "We expected this. We knew she wasn't getting a fair trial."

    Stein, 62, was bludgeoned to death in her Fifth Avenue apartment on Oct. 30, 2007. Blood was spattered in her living room and her skull was fractured as she was hit about two dozen times — blows Giovanni echoed in court Monday by repeatedly pounding his hand against the floor.

    The demonstration spurred one of Stein's daughters, Samantha, 37, to run from the courtroom in tears. She returned a few minutes later.

    Lowery initially denied any knowledge of the killing, then blamed it on a masked stranger who told her not to report it, and finally gave her videotaped account of beating Stein to death with a piece of exercise equipment after the broker badgered her about the pace of her work and blew marijuana smoke in her face.

    Authorities later determined there was no marijuana in Stein's body when she died, and she suffered far more than the roughly six blows Lowery described.

    Surveillance videotape showed Lowery leaving Stein's building soon after the estimated time of the killing, with no blood visible on her tan cargo pants.

    But Illuzzi-Orbon suggested Monday that Lowery had simply turned her pants inside-out. She noted that the video shows prominent dark seams running down the back of the pants as Lowery left, but not when she arrived, among other differences.

    Giovanni said the beating would have left blood elsewhere on Lowery's clothes and sneakers, and none was found. The pants were never found, but other clothes were.

    Defense lawyers deny Lowery killed Stein, but they have asked jurors to consider a lesser manslaughter charge if they believe she did but didn't intend to.