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Cops Make Arrest in Punk Pioneer's Death

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LARRY McSHANE | November 9, 2007 08:32 PM EST | AP

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NEW YORK — The personal assistant to a multimillionaire real estate agent and punk rock pioneer was arrested Friday after confessing that she fatally beat her boss with a yoga stick when a barrage of insults threw her into a homicidal rage, police said.

Natavia Lowery, 26, was charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of Linda Stein, a former co-manager of the Ramones who was found face-down in blood inside her $3 million Fifth Avenue apartment, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Stein, 62, was smashed a half-dozen times in the head and neck with a weighted yoga stick typically used for stretching exercises. Lowery was captured on a surveillance tape leaving Stein's building shortly after the Oct. 30 assault, Kelly said.

A judge on Friday ordered Lowery held without bail.

Defense lawyer Gilbert C. Parris complained to the judge at Lowery's arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court that he had not been told she was giving investigators a statement, even though he had instructed police and prosecutors to notify him.

Parris said the statements were taken at 6 a.m., after she had undergone lengthy questioning.

Stein, credited with bringing the Ramones to England, became known as the "Realtor to the Stars" after launching a second career in real estate. Her two jobs landed her a high-profile clientele, including many musicians and other celebrities like Steven Spielberg and Angelina Jolie.

Elton John was the godfather to her daughter Mandy, who discovered Stein's body on the living room floor.

Lowery told police that she was subjected to profane and derogatory comments from Stein as they worked in the real estate agent's apartment that morning. Lowery said she finally snapped while retrieving an e-mail from Stein's computer, with the boss blowing marijuana smoke in her face and telling her to hurry, Kelly recounted.

Lowery then snatched the stick from Stein's hands and battered the businesswoman until she collapsed, according to police. The murder weapon was not recovered, but the videotape showed the suspect carrying something with her as she exited Stein's Upper East Side building, Kelly said.

Lowery also took Stein's debit card and went to an automatic teller machine where she withdrew $800, Assistant District Attorney Shanda Strain said at the arraignment.

Lowery was among the more than 60 people interviewed _ including family, friends, former love interests and co-workers _ as police searched intensively for Stein's killer, Kelly said.

Lowery began working for Stein about four months ago, handling chores, clerical work and computer duties.

"She was brand new," said Danny Fields, who was Stein's managerial partner with the Ramones.

Stein's apartment was checked for DNA and other forensic evidence before Lowery admitted her role to police, authorities said.

The loud, profane and brassy Stein was a well-known New York figure, moving easily between the seedy scene at CBGB's and the cutthroat world of Manhattan real estate. She was once married to Seymour Stein, the former president of Sire Records.

Among those who attended her funeral were Whoopi Goldberg, renowned record executive Clive Davis and band leader Paul Shaffer of "Late Show With David Letterman."

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Associated Press writers Sara Kugler and Samuel Maull contributed to this report.