Four weeks of barely concealed emotions were exposed Monday in the trial of the young woman accused of killing real estate broker to the stars Linda Stein.
Stein’s daughter ran from the courtroom in tears following a defense attorney’s vivid reenactment of her mother’s murder during his closing statement. Thomas Giovanni stomped on the floor 22 times, the number of blows Stein’s attacker is thought to have dealt after pushing her to the floor.
Mr. Giovanni’s piece of courtroom drama was a response to the prosecution’s most recent evidence, a security tape showing accused murderer Natavia Lowery leaving Stein’s apartment wearing her off-white cargo pants inside out. Her pants, he said, would have been soaked right through with blood after such a brutal attack.
Stein’s older daughter, Samantha Wells, began to sob after he hit the floor the 16th time, and left the courtroom under the guidance of her younger sibling, Mandy.
“I’m extremely sorry that I had to do that in front of Mandy Stein,” the attorney said.
A family friend murmured, “No, you’re not. You don’t care.”
It underscored the tensions that have developed over the past month between two families brought uneasily together by a tragic event.
Defense attorneys have, at times, cast suspicion on Stein’s two daughters, Mandy, 33, and Samatha, 37. Both admitted on cross-examination that they fought with their mother over money, in person and in fiery e-mail exchanges.
Linda Stein, who managed the Ramones before selling real estate to entertainers, has been called feisty and outspoken by defense and prosecution alike throughout the trial.
“Linda did not suffer in silence,” Mr. Giovanni said in his closing. She was a mentor to Ms. Lowery. But sometimes she treated her young assistant with disdain or even subjected her to racial slurs, he added, as some of Stein’s friends sighed audibly. Mr. Giovanni also highlighted Ms. Lowery’s close relationship with her mother. She was 26 years old when the murder took place in October 2007, and still lived at home.
In the final minutes of the videotaped confession that was played earlier in the trial, Ms. Lowery asks, “Now can I …” She completed the sentence with “call my mother,” according to a police officer’s testimony.
“Nobody messes with Lottie Lowery,” Mr. Giovanni said, glancing over at her in theatrical terror during his closing. But throughout the trial the mother has sat quietly, reading a Bible or passing notes to her husband, and frequently waving to her daughter a few feet away. Only once, a couple of weeks ago, did the stress boil over when Ms. Lowery tried to change lawyers, and her stepfather shouted at the judge, “This trial has been a ruse.”
Monday, Ms. Lowery’s family also brought her young daughter to the trial for the first time, but turned back from photographers outside the courtroom.
The prosecutor also gave her closing statement, in which she highlighted that Ms. Lowery showed deliberate planning, turning her pants inside out to hide the blood. The personal assistant was stealing thousands of dollars from her boss, Joan Illuzi-Orbon added, and committed murder to hide evidence of the lesser crime, the theft.
Jurors are set to begin deliberations Tuesday. If they decide to convict Ms. Lowery, they must also choose between murder, which carries a prison term of 25 years to life, or a lesser manslaughter charge that defense attorneys requested be added Friday.