TOMS RIVER, N.J. — A jury found a man guilty Wednesday in the 1996 carjacking and killing of a special education teacher who secretly tape-recorded the conversation that took place during the crime.
Michael LaSane, 27, was convicted of murder, kidnapping, robbery and carjacking. He faces life in prison.
The case drew wide attention because Kathleen Weinstein secretly recorded 46 minutes of conversation with her captor in her car. During much of the tape, she tried to persuade the man to let her go, and told him there were ways he could extricate himself from the situation. LaSane denied that the voice on the tape was his.
The woman's husband, Paul Weinstein, fought for years to keep the tape from being played publicly, going as far as to have it copyrighted in an effort to keep media outlets from broadcasting it. The tape was played in open court during the trial, but the judge in the case prohibited copies from being made.
The Weinsteins' son was 6 years old at the time, and his father decided he never wanted his child to hear what his mother went through before her death.
"I didn't think anyone had the right to listen to what my poor wife went through in the last moments of her life," he said. "How much more sacred could something be?"
LaSane initially pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life with no parole for at least 30 years. But eight years later, an appeals court overturned the plea after it was revealed that LaSane's public defender had a sexual encounter with LaSane's mother.
Prosecutors said LaSane wanted Weinstein's 1995 Toyota Camry as a present for his 17th birthday. Her body was found in a wooded area in Berkeley Township, her hands and feet bound with duct tape. She was smothered with her own clothing, authorities said.
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