HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — Shanita Love was watching television one night with her boyfriend in early March 2008 when she recognized a man on the news whom police were looking for in the shooting death of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's student body president days earlier.
"It was the picture of Alvin pulling up to the ATM," Love, 25, testified Friday in the third day of testimony in the trial of Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., one of two men arrested in Eve Carson's slaying.
Love's boyfriend, Demario Atwater Jr., whom she called Rio, was with her, and he called downstairs for Lovette to come see.
"Rio said his picture was on the news," Love recalled. "(Lovette) said, 'Oh s—t,' and asked to use the phone, and he left."
Less than a week later, both Atwater and Lovette were arrested and charged in Carson's death.
Atwater, 25, pleaded guilty last year to state and federal charges in the case and is serving two life terms in prison. If convicted, Lovette, 21, faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Prosecutors say the pair kidnapped Carson, drove in her Toyota Highlander to ATMs in Chapel Hill and Durham, withdrew money and then shot her five times with a .25-caliber pistol and sawed-off shotgun in the middle of a street about a mile from the UNC campus.
Love testified that she was riding with Lovette and Atwater three days later, on March 8, 2008, when Lovette disposed of the handgun.
He threw one part into a drain in front of a small brick church in Durham, she said. They drove a bit more, and he disposed of a second piece into some woods off a small dirt road. They drove some more, and he got rid of the final piece, she said.
They later went back to Atwater's apartment on Roxboro Street, where Atwater and Lovette took the sawed-off shotgun they called "Baby Gauge" outside to try to break it.
"(They were) hitting it against the apartment – the bricks and concrete and ground," Love said. "When they came back in, it was broke in half, and they had put it in grocery bags, like Food Lion bags."
Atwater and another man, she said, later left with the bags.
"When he came back, he didn't have it," she said.
Love said Lovette also talked about what had happened to Carson one night when they and Atwater were together.
"Alvin stated that he had 'hit her' a couple of times and that she was still talking and moving around," Love said, "and that Demario added in that's when he came."
"Hit her" meant Carson had been shot, Love explained.
After seeing surveillance pictures of Atwater on the news, Love arranged for him and her to stay with a friend, she said.
Durham police found Atwater two days later.
Lovette's defense attorneys admit that he knew Atwater and that the prosecution has evidence connecting him to Carson's SUV but also say many witnesses for the state, including Love, have criminal records and motives to lie.
Love testified that she was convicted of misdemeanor charges of driving while impaired and injury to personal property and had been investigated by the Durham County Department of Social Services about a photo of what appeared to be her 3-year-old son smoking a joint.
She also admitted to helping Atwater hide from police and asking about a Crime Stoppers reward.
Her eventual cooperation, she said, wasn't for financial gain or in exchange for any kind of immunity from possible criminal charges.
"It was the right thing to do," she said.
Defense attorneys also questioned state witnesses Jeffrey Harris and Mercedes Bailey about their criminal records and motives.
Harris was convicted on numerous charges over the past 10 years, including several counts of assault on a female.
Harris testified that he was driving the car when Lovette threw away something in the drain in front of the church and a second time when Lovette threw something out a window.
He added, however, that Lovette also handed something to Love to throw out the window and later asked him about the best way to get rid of gunpowder.
"I told him I heard he might have to take a Clorox bath," Harris said.
Bailey, who had a misdemeanor larceny conviction from a 2008 crime, was a friend of Lovette's.
After Carson's death, Bailey testified, Lovette paid for their dinner at a restaurant and also bought her a pair of sunglasses.
"He didn't usually have money," she said, adding that he paid using $20 bills – which prosecutors have pointed out would have been the type dispensed from an ATM.
Bailey eventually asked him about his spending but didn't push it any further.
"(He said) that he had robbed someone," she said. "He wasn't specific about it."
Later that night, she and her grandmother were watching television and saw Lovette in the ATM surveillance photo, she said.
Her grandmother told her that Lovette wasn't allowed to visit again. But she never saw him again before his arrest and never asked about the photo or Carson's death, she added.