Duke murder suspect gets lower bond

August 5, 2009 4:43:21 AM PDT
One of the suspects in the alleged murder of a Duke graduate student has been granted a bond reduction.On Tuesday, a judge granted 19-year-old Stephen Oates' request for a reduction.

Oates' attorney asked for $50,000 bond from $10 million, but instead the judge decided to go with $1.5 million.

His original double digit bond was for first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon. Despite the reduction, no charges were dropped.

Oates has been charged in the death of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato. In January 2008, Mahato was found dead inside his Durham apartment just blocks from Duke's campus.

Click here to read more about Mahato's death

But, Oates' lawyer said there's no physical evidence linking Oates to Mahato's death. He fingered co-defendant Lawrence Lovette, Jr., based on a witness' statement.

The witness claimed to have overheard Lovette admit to kidnapping Mahato with the help of another man, forcing the grad student to make ATM withdrawals and then returning to his apartment where he was shot and killed.

The scenario was eerily similar to the March 2008 killing of UNC Student Body President Eve Carson. Lovette is also charged with her murder.

Click here to read more about the Carson murder case

On Tuesday, the prosecution said the witness that came forward with the new statement is the girlfriend of Demario Atwater, the other suspect in the Carson murder case.

The witness also implicated Atwater in the Mahato case, but the district attorney is questioning the credibility of the woman's statement.

The district attorney said her office would continue its investigation into the case.


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