Phila. man guilty of carjacking, murder of Russian woman

Posted: October 14, 2011

A Burlington County jury found a Philadelphia 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. He was convicted of carjacking, kidnapping, murder, and weapons offenses following a three-week trial in Mount Holly. The jury deliberated for seven hours over two days.

Laurance was the first of four Philadelphia 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 concealed off a New Jersey Turnpike ramp.

Eventually, the Northeast Philadelphia businesswoman was dragged out of her car in a rural area of Burlington County and shot behind her left 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 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 triggerman. In return for pleading guilty to aggravated manslaughter, Harrison will face up to 30 years in prison. The other two men await 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 back seat. 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. Riley had no comment after the verdict.


Contact staff writer Jan Hefler at 856-779-3224 or jhefler@phillynews.com.

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