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Video is key as NY punk pioneer murder trial wraps

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JENNIFER PELTZ | February 22, 2010 01:31 AM EST | AP

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NEW YORK — A murder case against a personal assistant accused of killing her boss, a top real estate agent with a punk rock past, may wrap up with new thoughts on a longtime piece of evidence.

Summations were set for Monday in Natavia Lowery's trial.

Prosecutors say Lowery beat Linda Stein to death with a piece of exercise equipment in October 2007. They say Lowery was desperate to conceal her theft of $30,000 from Stein, who co-managed the punk band the Ramones before brokering apartments for such clients as Madonna and Sting.

Lowery's lawyers, whom she tried to fire during the trial, have acknowledged the theft but say she had nothing to do with the bloody beating. They have noted surveillance video showing no blood on Lowery's clothes as she left Stein's Manhattan apartment building shortly after the estimated time of the slaying.

But prosecutors' summations may suggest the video shows that Lowery appears to have turned her tan cargo pants inside out between the time she arrived and the time she left the Fifth Avenue building.

Prosecutors on Thursday added still photos, taken from the video, to the stack of evidence before the jury. The video was introduced weeks ago.

The photos show prominent dark seams running down the back of the pants as Lowery left, but not when she arrived, among other differences.

While no one testified about the reversed-pants theory, it has been floated in the New York media, and prosecutors can try to assert such an interpretation of the photos in their closing arguments.

Investigators have never found the pants.

Lowery confessed to killing Stein in a videotaped statement at the time of her arrest, but she has since recanted. Her lawyers have said she was pressured into confessing by hours of police questioning that spanned overnight.

In the disputed confession, she says she lost control of herself and lashed out after Stein berated her about the pace of her work and blew marijuana smoke in her face. Medical tests found no sign of marijuana in Stein's body.

Lowery, 28, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.