Local News

Judge allows testimony about Duke killing in Lovette trial

Posted November 27, 2011
Updated December 1, 2011

— One of the men accused of killing a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student body president in 2008 was in court Monday for the beginning of his first-degree murder trial.

Full coverage: Eve Carson homicide

If convicted, Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., 20, could spend the rest of his life in prison for the death of Eve Marie Carson. He pleaded not guilty Nov. 17 and can't get the death penalty because he was under 18 at the time of the crime.

Defense attorneys asked Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour not to allow prosecutors to present evidence about the murder of another college student whom Lovette is also charged with killing.

Lovette is one of two men charged with first-degree murder in the Jan. 18, 2008, death of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato, 29, whose body was found in his off-campus apartment. A date hasn't yet been set for that trial.

"The court has to scrutinize carefully whether or not we will be trying one murder case or two murder cases," defense attorney Karen Bethea-Shields said.

District Attorney Jim Woodall said there are too many similarities in the cases to exclude evidence in Mahato's death. He says five witnesses say Lovette told them he was involved in Mahato's murder. One says Lovette even pointed out the apartment complex where the graduate student was killed a short time after the crime and noted police hadn't yet discovered the body.

Lovette's attorney's want to argue just one case Lovette's attorneys want to argue just one case

Woodall says another witness says Lovette told him shortly after getting out of jail that he needed money and was looking for people to rob and kill. Prosecutors say the motive in both cases was stealing money from ATMs.

Defense attorneys questioned the credibility of those witnesses, saying some had changed their stories and that others may have had motives, such as trying to get sentences reduced or avoid being charged.

Baddour denied the defense's motion, saying he will allow some evidence about Mahato's death.

Jury selection begins at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in Lovette's trial for Carson's death. Each potential juror will be questioned individually. The process is expected to take four or five days.

Lawyers said they believe the trial could wrap up before Christmas.

An autopsy report indicates that Carson was shot five times, with the fatal shot being a shotgun blast to the head. The report also says that she suffered a wound to her right hand – likely because she had raised her right arm to protect herself.

Another man arrested in the case, Demario James Atwater, is serving two life prison sentences after pleading guilty last year to first-degree murder and several federal charges. It is possible that he could testify against Lovette.

Authorities say the two men chose Carson at random, kidnapped her and forced her to withdraw cash from two ATMs before shooting her and leaving her body on a neighborhood street about a half-mile from the UNC campus.

105 Comments

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  • beachboater Nov 30, 11:00 a.m.

    Someone who could become that mean at such an early age should certainly be tried as an adult and punished accordingly. I am a strong proponent of the death penalty.

    It is such a shame that in out current pc society, we cannot carry out the death penalty because the one being put to death might suffer some brief pain during the procedure. How much pain did the criminal inflict on his victim?

  • beachboater Nov 30, 10:57 a.m.

    ""Feeding someone to lions or alligators could be pretty terrifying I suspect."

    Lotta folks out there fighting and dying to protect our Constitution. Try to take it a little more seriously." JE

    And yet there are those in Washington, D.C., many the bosses of those fighting and dying, are fighting (non-physically fighting) to destroy that very constitution.

  • anne53ozzy Nov 29, 5:29 p.m.

    Misbegotten.....HUH? The tragic death of this woman and the male student at Duke is not a platform for this sort of blather.

  • anne53ozzy Nov 29, 5:25 p.m.

    It is unfortunate that WRAL does not name the Duke student that was murdered in these articles. Whereas he was not the student body president or a beautiful young girl, his death was as horrific and his name deserves mention.

  • cantstandya Nov 29, 2:19 p.m.

    This will end up years down the road as a racially unbalanced jury and reason for a retrial,that and any other future means of getting him another bite of the apple should be taken into consideration and determined that he would always be ineligble for that consideration,it's the only fair thing to do for the Carson family, since the death penalty is off the table,they deserve final justice and never to be brought up again.

  • Lead by Example Nov 29, 9:06 a.m.

    "Baddour denied the defense's motion, saying he will allow some evidence about Mahato's death."

    GREAT CALL Judge Baddour!!

  • Lead by Example Nov 29, 9:04 a.m.

    "He pleaded not guilty Nov. 17 and can't get the death penalty because he was under 18 at the time of the crime."

    Too bad, he deserves the death penalty. Let's at least hope for life w/o parole.

  • fayncmike Nov 29, 8:35 a.m.

    "Karen Bethea-Shields, please don't allow your client to get out of paying the price for what he did. And it's the ultimate price he owes.
    Made In USA"

    Yes well we all know that defense lawyers are supposed to help the prosecution make their case.

  • Mr. D3 Nov 28, 7:56 p.m.

    TWC, their deafening silence sends the wrong message and THEIR TRUE message, as well as the anti-death penalty advocates who are comforted when criminals get away with murder!

  • twc Nov 28, 6:47 p.m.

    Why don't the associations that are so vocal when a perceived injustice is done to people they claim to support stand up and publicly decry these kinds of crimes? Don't they realize the positive influence they could have? Don't they realize that their deafening silence sends the wrong message? Do they even care?

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