Local News

Lovette defense intends to take Duke murder case to trial

Posted June 6, 2013

— The defense attorney for Laurence Lovette says her client intends to go to trial in the shooting death of a Duke University graduate student who was killed two months before Lovette was arrested for killing the student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Karen Bethea-Shields said Thursday that they had discussed a plea concerning Abhijit Mahato's death but that Lovette, facing a first-degree murder charge in the case, is adamant about going to trial.

There was no formal offer of a plea deal, however. The case is set to be back in court in July, but a trial date has not been set.

Mahato, 29, of Tatangar, India, was a second-year graduate student at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering, where he was studying computational mechanics. He had hopes of returning to India to teach at the university level.

Friends found him dead inside his off-campus apartment on Jan. 18, 2008. According to an autopsy report, he died from a single gunshot wound that was fired at point-blank range to his forehead as a pillow was held tightly to his face.

According to court documents, his wallet and cellphone were stolen, as well as an iPod that was found on Lovette when he was arrested after the March 5, 2008, shooting death of Eve Carson at UNC.

Laurence Lovette Lovette hearing in Mahato murder case

Friends said bank statements showed two withdrawals from Mahato's savings account on the day they found his body. In Carson's case, Lovette and another man kidnapped her and drove her to several ATMs to withdraw money before fatally shooting her in a Chapel Hill street.

In February, prosecutors dismissed a first-degree murder charge against Stephen Lavance Oates, another man originally charged in Mahato's death, after witnesses changed their stories, leaving them with insufficient evidence to tie Oates to the crime.

Oates had maintained his innocence, saying his arrest was a case of mistaken identity, and prosecutors previously had acknowledged that Lovette told a witness he killed Mahato with someone named Phillip.

Lovette, 22, was convicted in Carson's death in 2011 and was resentenced on Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

His original sentence was life without parole, but last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that judges must consider mitigating circumstances before sentencing someone under the age of 18 to life without the possibility of parole.

15 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • dianefrupert Jun 7, 7:52 p.m.

    What in the world happens to a person that they are able to brutally kill a fellow human being they don't even know. Please someone explain how a man can kill a foreign, probably nerdy, graduate student, and a little, pretty, defenseless young lady, probably pleading for her life? I hate this world and am looking forward to Jesus returning and bringing justice and righteousness to our world. Our only hope!

  • icmfal Jun 7, 11:23 a.m.

    Finally some attention paid to this young man, Abhijit Mahato. It seems to me that the authorities and the media wanted to brush him aside in favor of that girl. Those men should have been tried for Abhijit Mahato's murder first then that other girl.

  • Lightfoot3 Jun 7, 11:03 a.m.

    "Just keep him locked up safely away from all of us for his entire life." - Tax Man


    The safest thing that will keep him away from all of us is to plant him in the prison cemetery.

  • Lightfoot3 Jun 7, 11:01 a.m.

    "after witnesses changed their stories, leaving them with insufficient evidence to tie Oates to the crime" - article


    If this doesn't scare you, you'd better wake up! All it takes is for someone to say you did something, for whatever reason, and whether true or not, and the state will put on a show in court and send you up the river.

  • pause to consider Jun 7, 9:46 a.m.

    He is implicated in two murders and he says he's not the monster the court is making him out to be. Yeah, right. He is just sticking it to us taxpayers and the court system by insisting in a trial. Why can't our justice system mete out justice?!?!

  • miseem Jun 6, 6:51 p.m.

    But, but, but, he's not a monster. He figures this will just cost the state more money and have no effect on his sentence, which I hope is a correct assumption. At least having two murder convictions makes it less likely he'll ever get out, regardless of any appeals down the road.

  • Tax Man Jun 6, 5:49 p.m.

    Try him and add this sentence to the other one. Just keep him locked up safely away from all of us for his entire life.

  • sjb2k1 Jun 6, 5:45 p.m.

    lol does he really think he has a shot at being acquitted for this? innocent until proven guilty, i guess....but this was pretty cut and dry...

  • grayboomerang Jun 6, 5:15 p.m.

    Sounds to me like he was on his way to being a serial killer. No conscience or compassion for other living beings. A bad childhood doesn't make this..something lacking in his brain/mind. Two innocent lives lost for nothing. Lock him away and throw away the key. I have no compassion or sympathy for him.

  • Alexia Jun 6, 5:09 p.m.

    Given the man is already sentenced to life in prison, isn't this just a waste of money? Why don't prosecutors just sit on this case and then take him to court in the unlikely event that he gets out of jail on appeal for the first murder?

More...