Linda Stein Murder Trial: Questions of Security

After giving a tearful account Monday of her mother’s murder, the daughter of high-powered real estate broker Linda Stein said Tuesday that their relationship was tumultuous.

Mandy Stein, 34, described her mother as “controversial,” under cross-examination by defense attorneys. They fought over money, and several weeks before her death the Manhattan broker kicked Mandy out of the New York apartment where she was staying to work on a documentary about CBGB that her mother helped fund.

“Just because you had a fight with your mother a few weeks before her death,” said prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, “does not mean you killed her.”

Judge Richard Carruthers warned the defense not to cast suspicion on Ms. Stein in the killing without evidence. He excluded angry e-mails exchanged between the two women.

Prosecutors also questioned building superintendent Ed McQuaid, who rushed to help Ms. Stein the night in October 2007 when she found her mother murdered.

It was impossible to enter the Fifth Avenue apartment building where Stein lived on the 18th floor without being captured on camera, Mr. McQuaid, who has managed the property for 12 years, told prosecutors.

Security footage from the afternoon of the crime shows Stein’s personal assistant Natavia Lowery, who is accused of the murder, coming and going several times, wearing tight khakis and a dark grey jacket, and at points carrying her boss’ turquoise handbag. She left finally at 5:04 p.m.

On the tape, Mandy Stein arrives several hours later, at 10:21. Four minutes later Mr. McQuaid is seen rushing to the apartment, where he found the 62-year-old woman lying face down in a pool of black blood.

The 9/11 operator instructed him to give the victim CPR, but it was too late.

“I didn’t think it was a good idea for Mandy to see me turn her [mother] over,” he said. “I knew she was dead.”

Defense attorneys noted there is no blood splattered on Ms. Lowery’s clothing in any of the security footage. They also pressed Mr. McQuaid on the level of security in the building, which was under construction. Stein had chastised several of the workers about the noise in the months before her death.

Natavia Lowery, 28, is charged with hitting her boss in the head 10 times with an exercise stick, and stealing from her over the six months she was employed as the prominent broker’s assistant at Douglas Elliman. Stein’s boldface roster of clients included Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Andy Warhol estate.

The trial, which is expected to last up to two months, continues tomorrow with the prosecution witness, a porter at the apartment building.