A Burlco jury found a Philly man guilty Friday of participating in the Sept. 2, 2009 carjacking of a Russian immigrant in Frankford and her murder five hours later in a secluded Mansfield Township field.
Lenroy Laurance, 29, faces life imprisonment after he was convicted of carjacking, kidnapping, murder and weapons offenses after a three-week trial in Mount Holly. The jury deliberated 7 hours over two days.
Laurance was the first of four Philly men to be tried for abducting Lyudmila Burshteyn, a 57-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen, while she sat in her new Nissan Murano waiting for a housing inspection on a property she managed. Police said the men pistol-whipped her, blindfolded her, and drove her around while they smoked marijuana and searched for guns that they had hidden off a New Jersey Turnpike ramp.
Eventually, the Northeast Philadelphia businesswoman was dragged out of her car in a rural area and shot behind her ear.
“Unfortunately the criminal justice system cannot provide a punishment equivalent to the pain and suffering that was imposed upon the victim and her family,” Prosecutor Robert Bernardi said after the verdict was announced. The woman's adult son and daughter had attended the trial.
Kareem Harrison, 19, who also was charged with the crime, was the star witness against Laurance. Harrison called Laurance the organizer and the triggerman. In return for pleading guilty to aggravated manslaughter, Harrison will face up to 30 years in prison. The other two men are awaiting trial.
During the trial, Raymond E. Milavsky, first assistant Burlington County prosecutor, played a videotape in which Laurance told police that he had gotten into the car after his friends stole it but didn't notice a woman lying in the backseat. By the end of his statement, Laurance admitted that he "was there" when Burshteyn was shot.
Michael E. Riley, Laurance's attorney, argued that Harrison was the real shooter and had lied on the witness stand. He had no comment after the verdict came back.
See previous stories about the trial here: http://bit.ly/n419O7 and http://bit.ly/mS04qO