Trial date set for Duke student's 2008 shooting death
Posted December 18, 2013
Durham, N.C. — A Superior Court judge in Durham on Wednesday set a July 14 trial date in the murder case of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato, who was shot to death nearly six years ago.
Judge Jim Hardin also ruled against motions to move Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr.'s trial to the North Carolina coast or to bring potential jurors from Wilmington and Elizabeth City to Durham – moves defense attorneys argued were necessary to ensure a fair trial.
Lovette, 23, was also arraigned Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the Jan. 18, 2008, crime.
Mahato, 29, of Tatangar, India, was found dead inside his apartment from a single gunshot wound fired at point-blank range to his forehead.
Lovette's attorneys had asked for the change of venue, citing extensive news coverage of the case as well as the murder case of Eve Carson, the student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was killed less than two months after Mahato.
An Orange County jury found Lovette guilty of that crime in December 2011. He is already serving a life sentence in prison on that conviction.
"He's just trusting in the system and trusting in the fact that we can get fair and impartial jurors to get this case," his attorney, Karen Bethea-Shields, said. "Hopefully, things will turn out pretty good for him at trial, and if not, we have some good issues for appeal."