Stein Assistant Convicted

The personal assistant of a punk-rock pioneer and celebrity real estate broker was convicted Tuesday of bludgeoning her boss to death with a piece of exercise equipment.

Jurors spent less than a day reaching a second-degree murder verdict in the Manhattan trial against Natavia Lowery, the personal assistant to Linda Stein, who managed the Ramones before becoming a real estate agent with celebrity clients including Madonna and Sting. Lowery showed no reaction when the verdict was read.

Prosecutors said Lowery stole more than $30,000 from Stein, then clubbed her to death to try and hide the theft.

Lowery’s lawyers had acknowledged she stole from Stein and at least one previous employer, but they denied she killed Stein. The 28-year-old woman’s attorney said in closing arguments Monday that police plied Lowery into a false confession after 12 hours of questioning.

Prosecutors had presented evidence showing Lowery had a troubled history, which included arrests on charges of stealing a roommate’s identity and being fired for embezzling from a church while working there. The allegations hadn’t been reported to authorities or had been dropped, prosecutors say. Stein apparently didn’t know about any of the incidents.

Lowery had worked for about three months for Stein before the 62-year-old woman 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.

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.