Local News

Motion: UNC murder suspect admitted to Duke slaying

Posted August 3, 2009

— The man accused of killing the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's student body president last year made statements implicating himself in the slaying of a Duke University graduate student two months earlier.

That's according to a motion filed Friday on behalf of Stephen Lavance Oates, who is charged in the Jan. 18, 2008, death of Abhijit Mahato. The mechanical engineering student from Tatangar, India, was in his second year at Duke when friends found him shot to death inside his Durham apartment.

The motion, asking for a reduction in Oates' $10 million bond, claims that Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr. – also charged in Mahato's death – made statements, admitting that he and someone named "Phillip" kidnapped Mahato, took him to an ATM to withdraw money and then back to his apartment, where they robbed and killed him.

Lovette is also a suspect in UNC senior Eve Carson's March 5, 2008, death. Chapel Hill police say he and another man kidnapped Carson and forced her to withdraw money from ATMs before shooting her five times in a neighborhood near the UNC campus.

In Oates' defense motion, attorney Mark Edwards, writes that Lovette also admitted to being involved in other robberies and that he shot two men in the legs during separate robberies that coincide with crimes in which Oates is also charged.

Lovette also "denied knowing Mr. Oates and did not indicate that Oates was involved in the Mahato murder," Edwards wrote. "Not surprisingly, Lovette was greatly relieved when the police arrested Mr. Oates since he felt they would stop looking for him."

The motion does not indicate to whom Lovette told the information, only that it was provided to Oates' defense team after a May 11 bond hearing.

The motion also states that Lovette made a second statement that prosecutors used at that bond hearing to argue against lowering Oates' bond. In that statement, according to Edwards, Lovette implied that "Mr. Oates was in fact the true shooter and that Lovette was a mere bystander."

"The new statement shows the truth about what happened. Lovette's conduct both before and following the murder of Abhijit Mahato demonstrate how dangerous and brazen a criminal he is," the motion states.

"There is no credible evidence to tie Stephen Oates to the murder of Abhijit Mahato or to any of the psychopathic crimes committed by Lawrence [sic] Alvin Lovette," it continues.

Mahato's body was found on the floor inside his Anderson Street apartment, just off Duke's campus. An autopsy found he died from a single bullet fired directly at his head.

Police arrested Oates five days after the shooting, following a multi-county, high-speed chase. According to an arrest warrant, Mahato's cell phone helped police link Lovette to the crime when he was arrested on March 13, 2008, in Carson's death.

Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline has also said in previous hearings that police found Mahato's iPod on Lovette and that investigators were not sure which suspect shot Mahato.


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  • 4lilboys Aug 4, 2009

    Mr. Oates has a criminal history, which includes being incarsarated for 2 months on FELONY B & E. Obviously, he has not learned his lesson. Keep him in there, do not lower his bond because he may be able to post it. Then he would get out and cause more trouble.


  • sssh.. whisper Aug 4, 2009

    I agree with GreatDane... Age, race, sex, etc., they knew they were intentionally causing fear and harm. When a person can take another person's life by means of murder.. then he/she should have to give up his/her own life. NO PAROLE, NO LOWERED BONDS... NOTHING- JUST DEATH.

  • GreatDane Aug 4, 2009

    Does some magic transformation take place when someone moves from 17 to 18 years old? Lovette was 17 when he participated in the ruthless killing of innocent people. Personally, I don't care how old he was and I don't care what race he belongs to. He is a killer. Period. He was old enough to know what he was doing. Most people are old enough to know better than that when still a small child. Every single one of those pitiful excuses for humans deserve the death penalty. Can't find anyone to administer the lethal injection? I'll be happy to do it. When it comes to vicious killers, I am color and gender blind. They all deserve the death penalty. So what if they had bad childhoods? I had a bad childhood myself, but I haven't killed anybody yet. All of them deserve the same fate..death.

  • shortcake53 Aug 4, 2009

    Stick a fork in him, hes done. All the evidence already collected, now his own confession, WHAT more do we need to put an end to this guy and his reigne of terror? Him and his little buddies in crime.

  • kiediss Aug 4, 2009

    I am SO SICK of hearing about this case. Everytime these guys eat a meal there's an article and another trial. Enough already! They've already been caught, have certainly been indicted beyond a shadow of a doubt in both cases, are in jail, and are either going to rot there or get the chair. What else is there to try anymore? God, quite wasting my tax dollars on these losers. How about a little focus on the serial killer wiping out black women in our neighboring counties? This horse is DEAD.

  • elhj83 Aug 4, 2009

    I'm not sure about the other guy, but wasn't the Lovette guy already out on probation when he killed both these people...it would be stupid for the courts to let either of them out especially after this!

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Aug 4, 2009

    People connected to this boy have had issues being release from jail for probation or bail lets not let another one out

  • ILuvJetNoise Aug 4, 2009

    I hope he gets the death penalty. He has no regard for human life. He treats people like trash.