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Witness: Eve Carson wanted to pray before shooting death

Posted December 13, 2011

— A man testifying in the trial of Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr. testified Tuesday that Lovette told him that Eve Carson pleaded for her life in the moments leading up to her shooting death three years ago.

"Before (Lovette) even shot her, he explained, she was saying, 'Let's pray,'" 20-year-old Jayson McNeil said, recounting a March 12, 2008, conversation he had with Lovette, a lifelong friend, about the crime. "She wanted them to pray together."

The conversation between Lovette and McNeil happened the same day Durham police arrested Demario James Atwater in the case. An anxious Lovette called McNeil seeking help to find a place to hide, McNeil said.

"He stated that (police) had gotten (Atwater)," McNeil testified. "He kept saying that, 'They got him. They got him.' He was telling me they got Rio."

Prosecutors contend that Lovette, 21, and Atwater, 25, kidnapped the 22-year-old University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student body president from her home sometime after 3:30 a.m. on March 5, 2008, took her in her SUV to withdraw money from ATMs and then, nearly 90 minutes later, shot her five times in a neighborhood close to the Chapel Hill campus.

Atwater pleaded guilty last year to state and federal charges in the case and is serving two life sentences in federal prison. Lovette faces life in prison, if he's convicted of first-degree murder.

McNeil, whose testimony was part of a plea deal in a federal drug case, said Lovette told him that he and Atwater went to Chapel Hill to rob and that they saw Carson getting into her SUV.

"They rushed her," he said.

Lovette's friend testifies that Eve Carson pleaded for her life Witness says Lovette told him Eve Carson pleaded for her life

Lovette got into the driver's seat, and Atwater got into the back seat with Carson and held a gun to her head, McNeil said.

"He said the whole time that Eve Carson was in the back seat that she was pleading for her life and explained that they didn't have to do what they were doing," McNeil said. "Demario was feeling her clothes and touching her in certain parts of her body."

Lovette said they killed her because she had seen their face.

"He explained to me that he shot her five times with a .25-caliber and that she was still alive. She was moving and stuff," McNeil said. "(He) said Demario Atwater stood over top of her with a 14-guage and shot her in the chest. He said he no longer heard anything out of her. She was dead."

Dr. Cynthia Gardner, a medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Carson, testified Tuesday that the UNC-Chapel Hill senior had actually been shot four times with a .25 caliber pistol – once to the right cheek, the back, right arm and right buttock.

She was also shot once through her right hand and the right temple with a sawed-off shotgun.

"Only one of these wounds was immediately fatal, and that was the shotgun injury to the head," Gardner said.

Carson could have survived the handgun wounds, she added, with appropriate medical care.

As Gardner showed jurors autopsy photos, Lovette sat with his head down, and appeared to be looking at a copy of the autopsy report that detailed Carson's injuries.

Analysts with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation also testified that they found no hair or prints linking him to the shooting.

Jennifer Remy, an SBI crime lab hair and fiber analyst, said she tested nearly 100 pieces of evidence in the case, including items taken from Carson's SUV and was unable to find hair or fiber samples linking Lovette to the crime.

But she said it wasn't unusual for there not to be hair and fiber evidence and that the way someone wears his or her hair is a factor in how it can fall out – the average person loses about 100 pieces daily, she said.

Another SBI agent specializing in latent prints said she tested more than 60 items of evidence and couldn't link Lovette to the crime. She also tested several pairs of shoes taken from Lovette's home but couldn't positively match them to a shoeprint found on a Bank of America receipt found in the front driver's side floor board of Carson's Toyota Highlander.

During opening statements, Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall admitted that there wasn't a lot of forensic evidence linking Lovette to the crime but that an ATM surveillance photo and witness statements did link him.

Also, Woodall said, shell casings found near and bullets recovered from Carson's body matched a .25-caliber handgun that investigators recovered based on information from Atwater's girlfriend, Shanita Love, at the time.

Defense attorneys have said there's little evidence to link Lovette to Carson's killing and that witnesses, like McNeil and Love, either had motives or were biased when they cooperated with police.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • shellygwar Dec 23, 2011

    Where is the hate crime added to this crime? The increase of violent black on white crime is very disturbing.

  • anne53ozzy Dec 20, 2011

    I have a prayer myself and I wish it would be as generous and kind as her's was. I will take that to heart and perhaps that is the greatest outcome of this tragic and heartless event. This young woman was a martyr to gang violence and disregard for life. I know she will be held high in Heaven or will be reincarnated as a seer and visionary.

  • ckegler101 Dec 19, 2011

    CONCERNED MOMOFKIDSANDGRANDKID7- Appears to have quite the education! If he was not guilty then why did he go into hiding. Whether he pulled the trigger or not, he certainly played a part in her death and deserves to be severely punished for it. He is a criminal, PERIOD! Anyone who thinks he should be free is obviously delusional.

  • westernwake1 Dec 15, 2011

    CONCERNED MOMOFKIDSANDGRANDKID7 - It is obvious to any reasonable person at this point that Lovette is completely guilty of the murder of Eve Carson. The evidence is overwhelming. Anyone who thinks he is not guilty is in denial.

    Denial seems to be a common problem among his supporters; along with a "no snitching" code that made all these other witnesses (who all had criminal backgrounds) both help Lovette hide the evidence and himself in Durham after the crime.

  • tierneemalinadeveaux Dec 14, 2011

    CONCERNED MOMOFKIDSANDGRANDKID72, fortunately for you I do not moderate these postings, because I never would have allowed you to say that this man is innocent. His face is plastered all over the surveillance footage from the atm and you have the nerve to say he is innocent? She was someone's DAUGHTER!!!! I have a daughter 5 years younger than her and I would want him dead if he did that to my child. You have no empathy for her family. All you want to do is defend that useless piece of trash. I hope he gets two life sentences with no possibility of parole, and ship him off to Leavenworth.

  • acc_rules Dec 14, 2011

    Useless human beings. Renig on their sentences present and future and ice these two.

  • psecu1 Dec 14, 2011

    This should be catorgorized as a race crime.


    Everybody still stating what did and didnt happen as far as we know how we know Jayson was not the one since he know so much.Face it Alvin is innocent and everyone cannot get it thru their head and just want to believe what they want to believe.Its no evidence,people testifying against him and they have criminal passes that they trying to get dropped and just talking non sense to get that.Dont do that and then again Atwater gurl living with another man but she was in love no she was a accessory as well as Jayson.Two wrongs does not make a right.So Atwater plaed guilty so he done it.Free Alvin Free Alvin!! And I can say my comments like everyone else.How an you judge someone when yall need to sweep around your own front door.He is innocent and everyone knows it.

  • Lightfoot3 Dec 14, 2011

    "They wouldn't be one tiny bit better then the person they murdered." - fayncmike

    Incorrect. They would NOT be killing an "innocent". They would be doing it for JUSTICE. I see it as a form of citizen's arrest type action. While I understand the legal argument, you saying you'd be "happy to see them rot in prison" speaks volumes about your inability to understand the differences in crime, intent, mitigating circumstances, etc.

  • jscanes22 Dec 14, 2011

    I can see this guy getting off though. He is a black man in Chapel Hill and for some reason North Carolina is still trying to make good for what happened 200 years ago.