Accused Eve Carson killer enters plea

Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr.
November 17, 2011 3:26:43 PM PST
The second man accused in the 2008 murder of UNC student body president Eve Carson was officially arraigned Thursday and entered a not guilty plea to all the charges against him.

Twenty-year-old Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr. is expected to go on trial Nov. 28.

Prosecutors say Lovette was just 17 when he allegedly took part in Carson's murder with Demario Atwater.

Investigators say Atwater and Lovette kidnapped 22-year-old Carson from her Chapel Hill home on March 5, 2008 and then drove her around in her SUV to various ATMs in Chapel Hill and Durham.

An autopsy revealed that Carson - originally from Athens, GA - was shot five times before her body was left on a residential street in Chapel Hill about one mile from UNC's campus.

Last year, Atwater pleaded guilty to federal carjacking charges and state charges that included first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, and armed robbery. The plea agreements spared him a death sentence but sent him to prison for life.

The death penalty is not an option for Lovette because of his age at the time of the killing. He's charged with first-degree murder in the Carson case.

He's also accused in taking part in a second killing with another man.

Prosecutors say Lovette and Stephen Lavance Oates killed Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato in January 2008.

Mahato was a 29-year-old doctoral student in computational mechanics originally from Tatangar, India. He was fatally shot inside his apartment near Duke's campus. His wallet, cell phone, and iPod was taken.

At a pre-trial hearing Thursday, an Orange County judge said some potential key witnesses in the Carson case will be sequestered.

Carson’s parents could be called to testify, but they will be allowed to sit in the courtroom for the entirety of the proceedings.

Because of "extensive pre-trial publicity," according to the defense, the judge will allow for individual jury selection rather than allowing potential jurors to sit in courtroom together to hear questioning. That will likely mean jury selection could take 4 to 5 days.

Prosecutors and the defense disagreed on what photos to allow during the trial. The judge has rejected some photos and accepted others that show Eve Carson’s autopsy and the crime scene.

Prosecutors hinted that Carson’s hand wounds and the placement of her hands will be significant during the trial.

A hearing on the first day of the trial will be held to discuss whether potential witnesses can make statements about the Mahato murder.

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