Saturday, March 31, 2007

Narcissistic killer gets 60 years...

Paul Weinstein (Left, husband of Kathleen Stanfield Weinstein) reads a statement during the sentencing of Michael LaSane, (standing at right) in Superior Court, Toms River, New Jersey in the courtroom of Judge James N. Citta.

LaSane gets life plus 60 for '96 abduction, killing
By DONNA WEAVER Staff Writer

TOMS RIVER — The Ocean County man convicted of carjacking and killing a Middletown schoolteacher who secretly recorded their conversation was sentenced Friday to life plus 60 years in prison.

Michael T. LaSane, 28, “has a narcissistic personality,” Superior Court Judge James N. Citta told the courtroom Friday. “He's exhibited sociopathic tendencies, and he has no conscience or concern about doing wrong. He's exhibited that from the time he set out.”

Prosecutors said LaSane kidnapped Kathleen Stanfield Weinstein, 45, in March 1996 to give himself her car for his 17th birthday, the next day. He then drove to a remote wooded area, bound Weinstein's wrists and ankles with duct tape and smothered her with her own clothing.

“LaSane's design and plan was to not leave any witnesses,” Citta said. “He did not plan to let Kathy Weinstein live. She hoped against hope, but I think she knew, too, that he wasn't going to let her go.”

Citta cited LaSane's likelihood to commit another crime — even murder — if he were released as one of the many reasons he imposed the maximum sentence on all counts.

LaSane showed no emotion as Citta handed down his sentence, which came after LaSane addressed the court.

LaSane stood, shackled, wearing red prison clothes to indicate he was a high risk inmate. He was surrounded in the jury box by several other criminals who wore tan clothing.

“I'll try to be brief,” LaSane said. “Just because there's no one in the court from my family, I would like to thank the people who have supported and prayed for me over the years. I think the best thing to do at this point in the case is to listen to what the family of the victim has to say.”

Paul Weinstein, the victim's husband, was the first to rise and face his wife's killer. LaSane stared blankly at Weinstein as he spoke.

“Eleven years and nine days ago today, Michael Tracey LaSane murdered my wife. He discarded her possessions, my son's possessions and my wife's body in the woods like it was trash,” Weinstein said.

He said that after his wife's funeral he was alone with his 6-year-old son, Daniel, and saw him grieve like no else did. Daniel Weinstein, 17, is the same age now that LaSane was when he wreaked havoc on his family's life, Paul Weinstein said.

“Unlike Michael LaSane, Daniel has grown into a fine young man,” Weinstein said. “My son said to me at 8 that he couldn't remember his mother's voice. I told him that one day he could hear his very courageous mom on a tape she made. He has not asked to hear the tape,” Weinstein said.

Daniel was not present in the courtroom during the trial or the sentencing Friday.

Mark Stanfield, the victim's brother, cried off and on during his statement.

“We have watched Kathy's son grow into manhood with the unwavering love and guidance of his mother,” Stanfield said. Stanfield said that it baffled his family how LaSane could relive his crime without showing any emotion or remorse.

“Only a cold-blooded killer could listen to Kathy's words again without any reaction. His only thoughts were how he could lie his way out of accepting responsibility for his actions,” Stanfield said.

Stanfield referred to the 46-minute microcassette recording made by his sister before LaSane smothered her. Stanfield spoke of the many chances his sister gave LaSane to change the direction of his life.

Stanfield said defense attorney James Friedman, LaSane's 11th lawyer, was right about one thing — that there were portions of the tape that will never be known.

“Mercifully, we do not hear her in her final moments. I'm sure she was not calm then,” Stanfield said.

Betty Stanfield, the victim's mother, said outside the courtroom Friday that she was satisfied with the sentence, but it does not bring Weinstein back.

“Michael needs to be in jail. It's good that he'll be locked up,” Stanfield said. “She was a good daughter, mother and sister.”

Citta said he applauded the victim's family and their dedication and trust in the justice system.

He reminded the court that LaSane acknowledged his guilt when he confessed to killing Weinstein in 1997.

“Because of a technical blip in the system he was able to retract his guilty plea,” Citta said. “That blip in the system has allowed this crime to fester, abuse and fail the victim and the victim's family.”

The jury was not informed that LaSane pleaded guilty to killing Weinstein in 1997. His plea was overturned in 2004 after it was discovered his mother, Vera Thomas, had had a sexual encounter with LaSane's public defender, Kevin Daniels.

Citta said LaSane, who was convicted earlier this month, must serve 60 years of his sentence before he can be considered for parole. The initial sentence he received when he pleaded guilty to the crime in 1997 at age 17 would have made him eligible for parole after 30 years.