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Slain Duke grad student's savings account was drained

Posted July 21
Updated July 22

Laurence Lovette enters a Durham County courtroom on July 18, 2014, after a break in his first-degree murder trial for the Jan. 18, 2008, death of Abhijit Mahato.

— Someone made three ATM withdrawals totaling $520 from the savings account of Abhijit Mahato early on the morning of Jan. 18, 2008 – more than 21 hours before friends found him shot to death in his Durham home, a former police investigator testified Monday.

Art Holland, a detective who worked financial crimes for the Durham Police Department, told jurors on the second day of testimony in Laurence Lovette's murder trial that just a little more than $5 remained in the 29-year-old Duke graduate student's account.

His checking account, which had a balance of more than $4,000, however, was untouched.

Security video of an ATM on University Drive – approximately 2 miles from Mahato's Anderson Street apartment – at the exact time of those withdrawals showed what appeared to be a light-colored Mercedes pulling up and staying for about three minutes, Holland said. No one was recorded on the video.

The first withdrawal, at 2:12 a.m., was for $200, Holland said. The second, at 2:13 a.m., was for $60, and the third, at 2:14 a.m., was for $260.

Durham prosecutors say Lovette, 23, targeted Mahato from outside Mahato's apartment and took him to the ATM before returning to the apartment and shooting him once in the head.

"Mr. Lovette just didn't intend to rob Abhijit Mahato. He decided he was going to eliminate the witness and kill him in cold blood with absolutely no provocation," Assistant District Attorney Jim Dornfried said during opening statements Friday. "And that's what this case is about."

Peggy Maybrey – the mother of Demario Atwater, Lovette's co-defendant in the March 5, 2008, robbery and shooting death of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill senior Eve Carson – testified Monday afternoon that she saw Lovette driving a gray Mercedes in January 2008.

Her 22-year-old son, Phillip Maybrey, testified Monday that he admitted in a September 2013 police interview that he was with Lovette the night of Mahato’s death. But Phillip Maybrey said he lied because investigators deceived him when they showed up at his job telling him they wanted to talk to him about another case.

"I felt very offended and disrespected, because I'd been lied to," Phillip Maybrey said. "They could have come to me like a man and said we want to talk to you about this murder."

Phillip Maybrey has not been charged in Mahato's death, and Dornfried said in court that he's not been offered immunity or any kind of deal in exchange for his testimony.

Later this week, jurors are expected to hear from Atwater's ex-girlfriend, Shanita Love, who Dornfried said Friday led investigators to charge Lovette when he was arrested March 13, 2008, for Carson's murder.

Dornfried said Love told police that she heard Lovette talking about how he and Phillip Maybrey took Mahato to the ATM, withdrew money and returned to Mahato's apartment.

She's expected to take the stand outside the presence of the jury on Tuesday, when the Superior Court Judge Jim Hardin will decide how her testimony and Carson's murder will be presented to the jury.

That could take most of the day, and Hardin ordered jurors not to report for duty Tuesday and to check at in at the end of the day to find out about when they need to return Wednesday.

Carson, 22, was shot five times in a Chapel Hill neighborhood near the UNC campus on the morning of March 5, 2008, after a nearly two-hour ordeal in which Lovette and Atwater kidnapped her from her home and drove her to two ATMs, where Lovette withdrew $700 from her bank account.

Atwater pleaded guilty to the crime in 2010, and Lovette was convicted in December 2011. Both men are serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.

44 Comments

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  • disgusted2010 Jul 22, 3:06 p.m.

    "I felt very offended and disrespected, because I'd been lied to," Phillip Maybrey said. "They... View More

    — Posted by scubagirl2

    What's worse than his saying it is WRAL printing it. Just one more step in furtherance of their anti-law enforcement agenda.

  • disgusted2010 Jul 22, 2:58 p.m.

    When people refer to the high cost of capital punishment, usually it is because of the expensive... View More

    — Posted by The_Analyst

    Keep in mind that WE as taxpayers pay ALL of the costs of appeals. We have to pay for his attorneys as he is indigent and we also have to pay to defend the case. So the taxpayers get it going and coming. While emotion will tell us to keep going and put the trash to death a cold hard cost benefit analysis would point to life in prison.

  • 678devilish Jul 22, 2:46 p.m.

    That is a shame. But knowing he will be going to prison for life puts a big smile on my face. He is not as innocent as he looks in the pictures. I wish WRAL would just bring the story and leave Lovette's pic out.

  • scubagirl2 Jul 22, 2:10 p.m.

    "I felt very offended and disrespected, because I'd been lied to," Phillip Maybrey said. "They could have come to me like a man and said we want to talk to you about this murder."

    Are you SERIOUS?!?!?! poor baby feeling dissed like that ....... smh

  • djofraleigh Jul 22, 1:40 p.m.

    This is about justice, whether Lovette gets it (with either verdict) or whether Durham courts can deliver it.

    Lovette has a long time to get his soul right, but society should not have to co-exist with him as a free man. Put him in jail and keep him in jail. I don't believe for a moment that the pendulum won't swing and in 20 years he will be out a free man. Mahato will still be rotting in the ground. Not fair, but justice means going by the rules written for everyone, not fairness.

  • areyououtofyourmind Jul 22, 11:45 a.m.

    Just a suggestion: you may not care to make a rhyme in the title of a column about murder. Hit me as lacking decorum.

  • The_Analyst Jul 22, 10:59 a.m.

    When people refer to the high cost of capital punishment, usually it is because of the expensive appeals process. Most of the time, I think of Defense Lawyers in terms of the Erin Brokovitch story or the upcoming struggle to get Duke to clean up the coal ash they knew about from the first dirty shovelful they burned, but the prolonged appeals in a capital case at public expense make us think maybe these Defense Liars really are just parasites.

  • Jordy Jul 22, 10:50 a.m.

    I apologize, he would NOT be in prison for life.
    Furthermore, you are killing people for a few hundred dollars but driving a Mercedes????

  • Bealzebub Jul 22, 10:46 a.m.

    I normally don't support the death penalty, but these two are beyond redemption. And don't deserve to be supported at any sane persons expense for 50 years or more. do like the chineese. 9mm back of the head. Costs maybee what $3? When there is no doubt, and you are this callous to others just do it. These guys are poster children for who SHOULD get the death penalty.

  • jwbmom1965 Jul 22, 10:11 a.m.

    I think he should die. He surely doesn't have any problems taking someone's life!!!!

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