A former personal assistant to Linda Stein has been charged with second-degree murder in the alleged beating death of the ex-Ramones manager in her apartment on October 30, The New York Times reports. Natavia Lowery reportedly admitted to police detectives that she hit Stein six or seven times in the back of the head with what she referred to as a yoga stick after Stein allegedly made a racially demeaning remark.
Lowery, who police had interviewed multiple times in recent days, said Stein treated her poorly, "just kept yelling at her" and made her sick by blowing pot smoke in her face, officials said, according to the Times. New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a Friday news conference that Lowery had been Stein's assistant for about four months and that she claimed her boss had verbally abused her.
Lowery was arrested Friday morning, less than two weeks after the alleged murder took place at Stein's Fifth Avenue apartment. During an arraignment held Friday night, Lowery's lawyer said he had not been present when she was questioned. Gilbert Parris said that was "clearly a breach of my representation of her" and, outside the courtroom, said he would challenge the admissibility of Lowery's statement, which was videotaped, the Times reports.
According to the paper, some of Stein's friends said they did not know Lowery. Her aunt, Julia Carrow Lowery, told the Times that her niece wasn't capable of killing anyone and even liked working for Stein, who was also known as a real-estate agent to the stars, finding spots in New York for Sting, Billy Joel, Steven Spielberg, Calvin Klein and Bruce Willis.
The NYPD's chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, told the Times that investigators had been searching the apartment for physical evidence while simultaneously conducting interviews with Lowery and other people who knew Stein.
An unnamed official told the Times that, according to Lowery's account, "It was that Linda just kept yelling at her, over everything. ... They fought. It was like a continuous thing, like a buildup."
Authorities reportedly said Lowery claimed Stein blew marijuana smoke in her face — a family lawyer confirmed to the Times that Stein used the drug occasionally to alleviate pain stemming from her bouts with cancer. Stein also allegedly told Lowery she was one of only a few black people who could save money. After that, Stein allegedly swore and waved the piece of exercise equipment at her, and Lowery grabbed it from Stein and hit her with it. The murder weapon has not been located by police.
Lowery left Stein's home after the incident, which reportedly took place between 12:15 and 1 p.m., and allegedly used Stein's ATM card to withdraw $800.
Stein may have met Lowery when the assistant was working as a secretary at publicity firm Rogers & Cowan's offices in Manhattan, The Daily News reports. According to the paper, Lowery had been arrested previously — in December, on misdemeanor charges of identity theft and petty larceny — but that Stein was not aware of the arrest. The charges, which pertained to accusations that Lowery had stolen a friend's identity and used it to open accounts to make purchases, were later dropped and the case was sealed, the Daily News reports.
According to the Times, Elton John is planning a memorial concert for Stein.
[This story was originally published at 1:51 p.m. ET on 11.09.2007]