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Defense: Lovette didn't know he could have shot at parole

Posted February 6

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— One of two men convicted in the 2008 shooting death of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student body president Eve Carson would have approached his case differently if he had known he had a chance at parole, his attorney told the state Court of Appeals on Thursday.

Lawrence Alvin Lovette Jr. was automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole when he was convicted of first-degree murder on Dec. 20, 2011.

The sentence was reconsidered last year because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that offenders under age 18 at the time of a crime – Lovette was 17 years old when Carson was killed on March 5, 2008 – can't receive life sentences without parole unless mitigating circumstances are weighed. Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour in June affirmed the sentence of life without parole.

Lovette, now 23, appealed the sentence, maintaining that he should have a chance at parole, and attorney Keat Wiles argued Thursday that his lack of knowledge that parole could be a possibility amounted to a due process violation.

Wiles told the three-judge appeals court panel that Lovette might have testified during his trial or might have skipped the trial altogether and pleaded guilty if he thought parole was part of the "sentencing scheme" he faced.

"Had a defendant in Mr. Lovette’s situation walked into court and said, 'I’m guilty,' the sentence, I respectfully submit, would be life with parole, but he didn’t have that option," Wiles said.

The appeals court should vacate the sentence of life without parole and impose the lesser sentence that would make Lovette eligible for parole after 25 years, he said.

Assistant Attorney General Derrick Mertz said there is no evidence of any due process violation.

"He’s not saying he would have testified. He’s produced no evidence he would’ve testified. He’s produced no evidence of a new defense he would’ve raised," Mertz said, adding that Lovette was "arguing for some sort of jury nullification" by setting aside a sentence that was reached twice in his case.

Mertz noted that there were few mitigating factors in Lovette's case for Baddour to consider that would have justified a lesser sentence.

In resentencing Lovette, Baddour said he felt there was no chance of Lovette being rehabilitated. Mertz said that Lovette's own expert witness in the case testified that he didn't know if Lovette could be rehabilitated, although he held out hope of a rehabilitation after 20 to 25 years.

Carson, 22, was a UNC senior when Lovette and another man kidnapped her from her Chapel Hill home and drove her to ATMs, where Lovette withdrew money from her bank account. The pair then drove Carson to a neighborhood about a mile from UNC's campus, where she was shot five times.

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  • Hecate Feb 10, 10:36 a.m.

    What about Eve Carson's second chance? ....or the Duke student's second chance? .... oh that's right they don't get one because this man killed them in cold blood... makes no difference if you are killed by someone 17 or 70.. you are no less dead...

  • pedsrndad Feb 7, 1:21 p.m.

    Took over 2 years which included another hearing on the same issue to "discover" a problem with sentencing? Come on Atty. Wiles, you can do better than that.

  • Let-it-be-said Feb 7, 8:43 a.m.

    Sounds like his lawyer dropped the ball. His lawyer needs to be held accountable as well as Lovette. THis is why people get lawyers, to get them through the legal system.

  • djbyrdnc Feb 7, 8:19 a.m.

    If he would have been put to sleep we would not be having this discussion. Why has he not been tried for the murder in Durham?

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Feb 6, 7:55 p.m.

    This is all hogwash!!!

    He received the life sentence without parole because the Superior Court Judge during the reconsideration last year doubted Lovette could ever be rehabilitated so society would be safe were he to live within it again.

    Because of the findings of that reconsideration which Lovette was present at, how can anyone now say he didn't know?

  • Hill55 Feb 6, 7:43 p.m.

    Life behind bars prevents this evil person from taking another life. He has a depraved indifference toward life.

  • kbird Feb 6, 7:33 p.m.

    Are you kidding me????

  • westernwake1 Feb 6, 7:16 p.m.

    He does not deserve parole; he should be locked up for life.

  • Earth Brooks Feb 6, 7:00 p.m.

    Eve is gone and is not coming back.

    So should be this guys trial.

  • Jump1 Feb 6, 6:26 p.m.

    This was the lawyer fault, this way he can say he had a bad lawyer.

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