A couple weeks before Linda Stein was murdered, a Prudential Douglas Elliman colleague of the one-time punk-rock manager turned high-powered broker received a chilling response from Stein’s personal assistant to a question intended as friendly small talk.
“I said how’s it going to Natavia [Lowery], regarding just her working — making small talk,” Louise Stocker, an Elliman agent who sat at the desk next to Stein’s for five years, testified in Manhattan Supreme Court today. “We worked in close quarters, just being friendly and she answered in a determined voice, ‘we’re going to put an end to this.’”
When prosecutor Joan Iluzzi-Orbon tried to follow up with further questions today about the conversation and queries about the difference in Lowery’s behavior before and after Stein’s murder, objections by the defense were upheld and no further light was shed on the remark.
Lowery, 28, is standing trial for murder and larceny charges in connection with the killing of Stein, who was found bludgeoned to death [inside her Upper East Side high-rise on Oct. 30, 2007. Prosecutors charge that Lowery beat Stein, 62, to death with a weighted yoga stick after Stein confronted Lowery with accusations that the personal assistant was stealing from her.
Stein’s ex-husband, music industry executive Seymour Stein, was also called to the stand by the prosecution today in Manhattan Supreme Court. When asked to describe his relationship with his ex-wife, Stein, who was married to Linda for about seven years and had two daughters before divorcing, called her “my best friend.”
On the day she was murdered, Seymour Stein, 67, testified that he called his ex-wife’s cell phone at 10:16 a.m. and spoke with her for what turned out to be their last conversation. Stein was not asked about the substance of that conversation. Then at 4:17 p.m., hours after Linda Stein was believed to have been killed, he called her cell phone number again but this time Lowery answered it.
“I asked her where Linda was and was told she was out running,” Seymour Stein testified.
The doorman of Stein’s Fifth Avenue building who worked from 2:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on the day of the murder testified Tuesday that Lowery was the only person to visit Stein that day and that Stein didn’t leave her apartment during his entire shift.
Trying to attack the prosecution’s theory that Lowery killed Stein because Stein had found out her personal assistant stole about $30,000 by forging checks and opening up credit card and bank accounts in Stein’s name, defense attorney John Christie asked if Linda Stein had told him she suspected someone was stealing from her, as another prosecution witness testified to last week.
“No,” Seymour Stein answered.
Also today, the prosecution called an official from the HSBC bank to the stand and he testified that prior to the murder a large amount of money had been transferred from Linda Stein’s bank accounts into those of Lowery. That official also testified that in December — after Lowery had been arrested and indicted in connection with Stein’s murder — more than $10,000 was then transferred out of those accounts and into Lowery’s other accounts with the help of Lowery’s mother. Prosecutors said that $10,000 of the money that had been stolen then transferred was then used to hire Lowery’s first attorney on this case, high-powered defense attorney Ron Kuby, whom Lowery has since replaced.