Assistant gets up to life in prison in killing of NYC punk-rock pioneer at her penthouse
NEW YORK – NEW YORK (AP) — A personal assistant was sentenced Monday to up to life in prison in the deadly bludgeoning of her boss, a punk-rock manager turned high-powered real estate broker. The judge called the aide "almost inhuman," while she insisted she didn't commit the crime.
Natavia Lowery called her trial unfair and vowed to appeal in a brief statement before she was sentenced to 27 years and four months to life in prison on murder and other counts in the October 2007 slaying of Linda Stein.
"My innocence will continuously remain," she said in her first public statements during the case. She didn't testify at her trial.
A jury convicted her in February of killing Stein, who co-managed the Ramones in their 1970s heyday and later became a real estate broker with clients including Madonna and Sting.
Stein's two daughters made emotional statements blasting Lowery for not expressing regret for the crime.
"You are a disgusting person," Samantha Stein-Wells told Lowery in court.
"Where, where is your apology? Where is your remorse?" Stein-Wells added as Lowery looked through documents at the defense table. "You are truly a cold, ruthless killer."
Lowery's lawyer and family said she had no cause to apologize for a crime she maintains she had nothing to do with.
Lowery, 28, admitted in a videotaped statement that she killed Stein but later recanted. In the confession, Lowery said she lashed out after the broker harangued her about the pace of her work and blew marijuana smoke in her face in Stein's Fifth Avenue penthouse on Oct. 30, 2007. No trace of the drug was found in Stein's body.
Lowery also was convicted of stealing more than $30,000 from Stein. Prosecutors said the theft spurred the slaying, with Lowery desperate to keep Stein from going to authorities.
In the hours after the killing, Lowery ran errands for Stein, went out to lunch with a co-worker, fielded phone calls for the broker and left messages for her and members of her family — all efforts to cover her tracks, prosecutors said.
"Miss Lowery acted with an uncommon and almost inhuman degree of coolness and calculation, fully justifying the jury's conclusion that she took the life of Linda Stein intentionally," state Supreme Court Justice Richard Carruthers said at Lowery's sentencing.
Calling her "a very dangerous young woman who acted without regard for any human compassion," he said he would recommend she never be granted parole.
Lowery worked for Stein for about four months, helping the 62-year-old broker with clerical work and personal tasks. Prosecutors said Lowery had access to Stein's bank account and other personal information and took advantage of that in carrying out the crime.
During and after the trial, the relationship between Lowery and her then-lawyers was tense. She tried to fire them during the trial and again in March, spurring her stepfather to loudly denounce a judge for refusing the request.
The stepfather, Daniel Walsh, was charged with criminal contempt. He is due in court May 12.
The judge later agreed to let Lowery switch lawyers, citing the conflict between her family and her former attorneys.
In her appeal, Lowery will likely make issues of Carruthers' earlier refusals to let her change attorneys, as well as rulings that allowed jurors to see her repudiated confession and limited other potential evidence and witnesses she wanted to introduce, such as an expert on the psychological reasons why some people falsely confess to crimes.