Jury to resume deliberations Tuesday in Lovette trial

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Lawyers made their closing arguments Monday in the second murder trial for Laurence Lovette.

Lawyers made their closing arguments Monday in the second murder trial for Laurence Lovette. The jury is now deliberating.

Already convicted in the brutal murder of UNC student body president Eve Carson in March, 2008, Lovette is also accused of killing Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato the previous January.

Prosecutors allege Lovette took Mahato to ATMs to withdraw money from his bank account before taking him back to his home and shooting him between the eyes with a 9mm pistol.

In her closing argument, defense attorney Karen Bethea-Shields accused prosecutors of playing a "shell game" by presenting evidence from the Eve Carson case in an attempt to confuse jurors into convicting Lovette in the second murder.

She said prosecutors have presented no substantial evidence tying Lovette to the Mahato killing.

"They fell short of their promise," said Bethea-Shields. "They did not meet their burden of proof."

But in her closing, Assistant District Attorney Stormy Ellis said while there is limited physical evidence in the case, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence for jurors to agree to a conviction.

"The state has met every single element of all of these crimes," said Ellis.

Ellis said just robbery was not enough for Lovette, he also decided to take Mahato's life, and all that the engineering graduate student from India might have accomplished in his career.

"He took from society anything that Abhijit Mahato could have engineered in his lifetime," said Ellis.

Ellis alleged that Lovette killed Mahato because he saw his face, and could identify him to police.

In his closing, Assistant District Attorney Jim Dornfried called Lovette cold hearted and said he lacked empathy.

Lovette and Demario Atwater are already serving life sentences for the Carson killing. During this trial, prosecutors have pointed out similarities between the cases - including that both victims were driven to ATMs to clean out their bank accounts before they were murdered.

The defense has repeatedly attacked the credibility of the state's key witness Shanita Love, Dornfried told jurors in his closing Monday that she knew detail after detail about the killing that the general public didn't know - including that Mahato was shot in the head and that a pillow was placed over his face first.

Love - Demario Atwater's former girlfriend - testified that Lovette bragged to Atwater about the killing and about a burglary at an elderly couple's home in Durham where their car was taken. The car - prosecutors allege - later used in the Mahato killing.

In his closing, Dornfried said it was very lucky the couple didn't wake up during that crime, or they might be dead too.

But in his closing, defense attorney Kevin Bradley told jurors that Love told investigators what they wanted to hear to avoid prosecution for helping get rid of the murder weapons in the Carson murder.

Bradley said Love slipped up on the witness stand and admitted for the first time that she threw a piece of one of the guns out of a car window.

The jury of 10 women and two men got the case just after 3 p.m. Monday afternoon. They returned a short time later with five questions for the judge.

They went home for the evening around 5 p.m., and will return Tuesday morning to continue deliberations.

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