Local News

Eve Carson's killer to be resentenced

Posted February 5, 2013

— The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Laurence Lovette Jr., one of two men convicted in the death of former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student body president Eve Carson, must be resentenced because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding automatic life sentences of offenders under age 18 at the time of a crime.

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Lovette, 22, was sentenced Dec. 20, 2011, to life in prison without the possibility of parole after being convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree armed robbery in Carson's shooting death nearly five years ago.

The popular senior from Athens, Ga., was found dead in a neighborhood near the UNC campus on the morning of March 5, 2008.

In its ruling, the Appeals Court cited the Supreme Court decision – made after Lovette's conviction – in which the court held that a mandatory sentence of life without parole for a minor at the time of a crime violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Lovette was 17 at the time of Carson's death.

The Supreme Court ruled that judges must consider mitigating circumstances before sentencing someone under the age of 18 to life without the possibility of parole.

In response, North Carolina lawmakers passed a law that says the sentence should be life in prison with parole if someone under the age of 18 is convicted of first-degree murder solely on the basis of what's known as the felony murder rule.

In all other cases, the court must hold a hearing to consider mitigating circumstances, such as the defendant's age, immaturity and ability to benefit from rehabilitation, the Appeals Court said.

Lovette was convicted of first-degree murder not only on the basis of the felony rule but also on the basis of malice, premeditation and deliberation.

Eve Carson's legacy lives on at UNC UNC student's killer to be resentenced

A resentencing date has not been set, but Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said it could happen within the next three months.

"We knew that he was going to have to be resentenced. We've known that since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling came out," Woodall said. "I'm very happy with the Court of Appeals ruling because they found no error."

Lovette could still face a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He could also be sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.

Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour also sentenced Lovette to eight to 10 years in prison on the kidnapping charge and six to eight years on the robbery charge – sentences which were to run consecutive to the life prison term.

During closing arguments of Lovette's trial, prosecutors said Carson endured a nearly two-hour ordeal in which Lovette and Demario Atwater kidnapped her from her home and drove her in her SUV to two ATMs, where Lovette withdrew $700 from her bank account.

The pair then drove Carson to a neighborhood off East Franklin Street, a mile from UNC's campus, where Lovette shot her four times – in the right cheek, the back, the right arm and right buttock – with a handgun and Atwater fired the final and fatal shot through her right hand and head.

Surveillance video from a sorority house put Lovette and Atwater about a block away from Carson's home minutes before she was abducted. Security images from an ATM showed Lovette withdrawing money while Atwater held Carson hostage in the back seat, and Lovette made statements to friends that implicated him in the crime.

"This was so senseless," Woodall told reporters after the verdict. "I’ve heard and read about crimes that were brutal and meaningless, and there’s never been one more brutal and meaningless than this crime."

Atwater, 26, who is serving two life prison terms, avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty to state and federal charges in the case.

Unlike Atwater, Lovette was ineligible for the death penalty under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits the execution of individuals under 18 years old at the time of a capital crime.

Lovette is also charged in the Jan. 18, 2008, shooting death of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato, a mechanical engineering student from India, who was found dead inside his Durham apartment,

According to an arrest warrant, Mahato's cell phone helped Durham police link Lovette to the crime when he was arrested on March 13, 2008, in Carson's death.

Lovette has not gone to trial in Mahato's death. A status hearing is set for Feb. 18 in Durham County Superior Court.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • pm2 Feb 15, 2013

    If you wnt to consider parol, consider that they really should have not have been out at the time of the murder due to parol violations. I will be glad when the gun control laws are in place so we will not have to deal with all thee senseless gun crimes...

  • jackcdneh1017 Feb 6, 2013

    Wow! There is almost zero possibility of a rational discussion on these forums when folks cannot even read and understand the news as printed. No where does it say this guy WILL qualify for parole. No where is the crime he committed diminished or Eve Carson's memory tarnished. This is simply the state of North Carolina falling into line with the constitutional interpretation of SCOTUS. Once Lovette is re-sentenced to LWOP, which he.surely will be, there will be one less appealable avenue open to him. This is simply a housekeeping item, nothing to fret about.

  • lovingmylife Feb 6, 2013

    This is just plain bull. Eve Carson doesn't get a reduction in her sentence. Our justice system sucks!

  • feistyredhead2001 Feb 6, 2013

    I agree 150% with whatdaheck ! I can not believe they want to try and charge his as a minor ... at 17, 18, or even 15.... if you have NO regard for human life .. NOT TO MENTION HE KILLED 2 PEOPLE, then we the public and jury of his peers should have no regard for his life! I'm sure weather he is charged as a minor or an adult.... the victims families believe his age had NOTHING to do with his lack of responsibility to his fellow man to be kind and do no harm. We have the responsibility to the victims to make sure he pays for his crimes and lack of compassion for human life.

  • Jack Flash Feb 6, 2013

    "Fancy words that are far removed from the main intent of criminal law: JUSTICE."

    Yeah, we should just replace our entire court system w/ some guy who can yell "JUSTICE!" really loudly and dramatically. I recommend Mel Gibson, if he's available. He did a great job w/ "FREEDOM!"

  • Jack Flash Feb 6, 2013

    "You would be singing a different tune if you had an immediate family member or loved one brutally murdered. Not knowing this gut-punching grief, you can easily pontificate to the rest of us your enlightened, high-minded ideals in complete ignorance."

    1. You mean like Ms. Carson's family, who has publicly stated their opposition to the death penalty?
    2. You mean the only respectable positions anyone holds are those formed at the height of emotional distress?

  • Whatdaheck Feb 6, 2013

    Resentencing would be a very good idea if the new sentence is execution.

  • foghat001 Feb 6, 2013

    Sentence him to 80 years in prison w/o the possiblity of parole. :-)

  • Rebelyell55 Feb 6, 2013

    So now he gets life in prison , minus 1 day?

  • USAF Vet Feb 6, 2013

    So where do we begin..? How do we initiate the process to change the current state and federal laws we have on hand? As far as age, this shouldn't even come close to being a discussion when one person not only murders another person, but in such a savage and horrific manner. Times have changed and our laws must reflect those changes... a 15 year old involved in a crime today doesn't have the same innocent mannerisms as they might have had 20-30 years ago. Both parties must put aside political motives and modify criminal laws that will protect citizens the most. Gun related crime sentences must change. Probation laws must change. The "consideration of age" laws must change. Plea deals must change. The "rights" of prisoners... DEFINITELY must change. NC death penalty sentences must change. At some point, common sense must become apart of the law process. So where do we start..? Elected officials, current lawmakers, the senate, congress..?