Local News

Lovette initially wasn't a suspect in Eve Carson's murder

Posted December 12, 2011 1:31 p.m. EST
Updated December 13, 2011 3:42 p.m. EST

— A Chapel Hill police investigator testified Monday that Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., who is on trial for first-degree murder, initially wasn't a suspect in the 2008 shooting death of Eve Carson, student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Sgt. Celisa Lehew said she had a list of 12 suspects, including Demario Atwater Jr., 25, who pleaded guilty last year to state and federal charges in the case and is serving two life terms in prison.

Lovette was later added as the 13th suspect after Atwater's girlfriend, Shanita Love, told investigators that Lovette was involved in the murder.

Authorities also received a Crime Stoppers tip that Lovette, 21, was the man seen in a surveillance photo at an ATM, apparently using Carson's bank card.

Prosecutors say Lovette and Atwater 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.

Lehew also testified Monday about going to the crime scene to look at Carson's body and search the area for clues. She described seeing a large pool of blood under Carson's head and a large gunshot wound to her right temple. Carson's body was taken to the state Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill and wasn't identified until after the autopsy, Lehew said.

Carson's roommates gave authorities a picture of her and also described some of her distinguishing characteristics, such as Carson's curved spine and a mole on her right cheek, which helped authorities determine her identity, Lehew said.

The medical examiner told investigators that Carson was shot four times with a a .25-caliber pistol and then with one shot from a sawed-off shot gun. The autopsy also determined that Carson had not been sexually assaulted.

Atwater's girlfriend confirmed those details to police when they interviewed her, prior to that information being made public, Lehew said. Love also knew how much money was withdrawn from Carson's account and that she had about $9,000 total in the Bank of America account.

Defense attorney Karen Bethea-Shields questioned Love's motives and asked Lehew if it was possible Love knew those details because she was present when the crime occur. Lehew said there was no evidence that Love, or anyone else besides Lovette and Atwater were involved.

The defense also suggested that Love might have been motivated by reward money to give information or was trying to avoid be charged in the case. Lehew said Love collected no reward money for her help.