Lawyers lay out cases in Lovette trial


The 20-year-old is the second man charged in connection with the murder of UNC Student Body President Eve Carson.

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

Investigators have said Atwater and Lovette kidnapped the 22-year-old UNC student body president 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.

In his opening statement Wednesday, District Attorney Jim Woodall told jurors that Lovette is seen in photos from the ATMs using Carson's card.

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.

Woodall told jurors that Atwater's girlfriend Shanita Love will testify that the men got rid of two guns after the murder. Woodall said she led detectives to parts of a handgun that was later linked through ballistics testing to two bullets found in Carson's body.

Woodall said Love will also testify that Lovette and Atwater destroyed a sawed off shotgun detectives believe was used in the murder. Detectives later recovered that gun and found Atwater's DNA under duct tape wrapped around the weapon.

But in her opening statement, defense attorney Karen Bethea-Shields pointed all the blame at Atwater and said there is no forensic evident linking Lovette to the actual killing.

She also said witnesses for the prosecution expected to tie Lovette to the murder have "interest, bias, and motivation."

Following opening statements, the prosecution called its first witness. A Chapel Hill woman who lives near where Carson's body was found testified she heard gunshots around 5 a.m.

Alexandria Bokinsky said she heard one shot, then a woman yell, and then three more gunshots.

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.

Lovette faces the same fate if he's convicted, because the death penalty is not an option due to his age at the time of the killing. He's charged with first-degree murder in the Carson case.

Due to extensive pre-trial publicity, each juror was interviewed privately. The final one was picked Tuesday after more than a week of selection.

Lovette is also accused in taking part in the killing of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato in January 2008 along with Stephen Lavance Oates.

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.

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