Image: Michael LaSane
Tim Mccarthy  /  AP
Defendant Michael LaSane, right, sits with his defense attorney, James Friedman, on Wednesday in court in Toms River, N.J., for the 1996 murder of Kathleen Weinstein.
updated 2/21/2007 10:00:18 PM ET 2007-02-22T03:00:18

For at least 46 minutes, Kathleen Weinstein spoke to the intruder in her car, speaking to him about God, brainstorming on how to find him another vehicle, suggesting she would help him find a job.

The special education teacher even said she'd drive the teenager over an hour to Newark to see Michael LaSane's mother, according to a transcript of the conversation she secretly recorded.

Though Kathleen Weinstein's efforts failed, her foresight in recording the encounter may soon be used in the trial of the man accused of suffocating her.

"I'll go in with you to talk to your mom," said the woman on the tape, who family members identified as Weinstein.

"Why don't you let me drive you somewhere? And I'll have my car, and I'll make a promise that I won't tell anybody, because you won't be taking my car; you won't be hurting me, and maybe you can ... you can get away another way," she said.

"But you can't do it to a life of crime and do this. You'll wind up spending you life in prison if you don't get killed," said Weinstein, who at times is crying, the transcript said.

LaSane said little in response on March 14, 1996.

LaSane, who authorities said wanted her car as a gift to himself for his 17th birthday, went on trial Wednesday for felony murder, kidnapping, robbery and carjacking. He could be sentenced to life plus 60 years in prison, with no parole consideration before 60 years, if he is convicted.

Over objections from the defense, state Superior Court Judge James N. Citta on Wednesday ruled that the Ocean County jury can hear the 46-minute tape made by Weinstein.

Citta ruled after he and lawyers, as well as LaSane, donned headphones and listened to the original tape, as well as a version in which an audio expert had removed some background noise in an effort to make the voices more audible.

Unknown how long they were in the car
The exact length of time they spent in the car is not known. An audio expert testified that her recorder was on voice-activation mode, so that if no one was speaking — or not speaking loudly — the tape would not run.

Complete transcripts of the recording were released for the first time on Wednesday, after lawyers for media outlets protested that the tapes were not played aloud. Normally, anything said in open court is considered a matter of public record.

The victim's husband, Paul Weinstein, has opposed playing the recording publicly, and had it copyrighted to discourage media outlets from attempting to obtain it. Before Wednesday, only certain excerpts of the tape had been released publicly.

The judge distributed the 40-page transcripts Wednesday only after meeting in chambers with lawyers for The Associated Press, The Star-Ledger of Newark, and the Asbury Park Press of Neptune.

Citta said that if the tapes were admitted as evidence, they would be played aloud during the trial, according to Keith Miller, the lawyer for The AP and The Star-Ledger.

Weinstein called her attacker "Michael," and two officers who interrogated LaSane in 1996 testified Wednesday that his voice is on the tape.

Controversy over public defender
LaSane, now 27, pleaded guilty to murder in the 1996 slaying. But eight years later, an appeals court overturned the plea after it was revealed that LaSane's public defender had engaged in a sexual encounter with LaSane's mother.

Kathleen Weinstein of Tinton Falls was abducted on March 14, 1996, as she was returning to her car after buying a sandwich at a Toms River restaurant. She was grabbed from behind and forced into her car by an attacker who said he had a gun, authorities said.

During her ordeal, Weinstein, who taught in Middletown Township, turned on a small tape recorder, keeping it hidden in her coat pocket. She hid it in her pocket before her abductor suffocated her.

Her body was found three days later in Berkeley Township, and the microcassette tape was removed from the recorder and placed in a pocket.

Hours later, police found her car parked outside LaSane's Berkeley Township home.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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