Local News

Cell Phone Helped Link UNC Murder Suspect to Duke Slaying

Posted March 14, 2008 7:44 a.m. EDT
Updated March 19, 2008 11:15 a.m. EDT

— A cell phone helped link Laurence Alvin Lovette, the second suspect charged with murder in the death of UNC Student Body President Eve Carson, to the shooting death of a Duke graduate student.

Durham County Assistant District Attorney Tracey Cline said during a brief court proceeding on Friday that the phone and an iPod stolen from Abhijit Mahato's apartment the night he was killed was found on Lovette when police detained him Thursday morning in the Carson case.

Lovette, 17, is being held under a $3 million bond on a first-degree murder charge in Mahato's Jan. 18 slaying and is being held without bond on a first-degree murder charge in Carson's March 5 death.

According to the arrest warrant in the Mahato case, Lovette allegedly stole a cell phone, wallet and an iPod – with a combined value of about $300 – before Mahato was shot to death inside his apartment at 1600 Anderson St.

"There was information that investigators obtained that the victim's telephone had been used … the night or early morning he was murdered," Cline said.

Investigators learned that numbers on the phone traced back to a number associated with Demario James Atwater, Cline said.

Atwater, 21, is not charged in Mahato's death, but Durham Chief Jose Lopez said Thursday police were looking to see if he might have been involved.

Durham police have said, at this point, they do not believe the students' deaths were gang-related, and Chapel Hill police have said they are investigating all possibilities.

Lovette's criminal record includes charges of breaking and entering and larceny, for which he was on probation when he was arrested Thursday.

He was due in a Durham courtroom this month on charges of first-degree burglary, felony larceny of a motor vehicle and felony larceny after breaking and entering, all related to two crimes from February.

Atwater, who has a record dating to 2004, had been in Wake County Superior Court on a felony probation violation March 3, but the hearing was rescheduled because of a clerical error.

Correction officials said that, had the hearing occurred, Atwater could have been sent back to jail.