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Man gets life for murdering teacher

Michael LaSane
Michael LaSane, right, sits with his defense attorney, James Friedman, on Feb. 21 during his murder trial.Tim Mccarthy / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

A man who carjacked and killed a special education teacher who secretly tape-recorded her conversation with him during the crime was sentenced Friday to life in prison.

Michael LaSane was convicted March 7 of the 1996 murder, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery of 45-year-old Kathleen Weinstein.

The case drew wide attention because 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.

Weinstein'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 court during the trial, but the judge prohibited copies from being made.

The Weinsteins' son was 6 at the time, and his father decided he never wanted his child to hear what his mother went through with her killer.

"He discarded my wife's body. He discarded my wife's possessions like they were pieces of trash," Weinstein said Friday. "He has had 11 years to say he's sorry. He will never do so. He is a blight on society. I do believe he would kill again if given a chance."

Superior Court Judge James M. Citta agreed, citing numerous aggravating factors that he said justified a life term. LaSane will be eligible for parole in 60 years.

"He was not distracted or deterred by the fact he had a human being with him, pleading for her life, as he was going through papers looking for the title to the car," said Citta, who repeatedly glared at LaSane during the lengthy sentencing hearing.

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, her hands and feet bound with duct tape. She was smothered with her own clothing, authorities said.