Burglary victim tells chilling tale on witness stand at Lovette trial

DURHAM (WTVD) -- A Durham woman told jurors a chilling story Thursday about the night her car went missing and her home was burglarized.

Margie Scott testified in the murder trial of Laurence Lovette in the murder of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato. Prosecutors allege Lovette used a Mercedes he stole from Scott and her husband in the killing.

On the witness stand Thursday, Scott recounted waking up in her home January 17, 2008 to find the car missing and that purses that had been in her bedroom were laying on the floor downstairs and appeared to be emptied out.

""...When I saw the purses, I was devastated," Scott said. "That's when I realized someone had been in the house."

The burglary happened the day before Mahato was murdered.

Also on the witness stand Thursday, a Durham police officer testified about recovering the Mercedes.

Next, Heather Karl, a former Durham crime scene technician, showed the jury surveillance photos from a bank ATM. Prosecutors allege the car in the photos is the Mercedes and Lovette and Mahato were in it when $520 was withdrawn from Mahato's bank account.

The jury was escorted out when the defense objected to Karl's testimony about the wrong time stamp on the ATM video. Earlier testimony from a former Durham investigator said January 19 appears on the video instead of January 18 because of a technical error. Superior Court Judge Jim Hardin overruled the objection.

Other state witnesses would tell the jury a Hispanic man was robbed at gunpoint and shot in the leg less than two miles from the Anderson Street apartments where Mahato was found dead.

A firearms examiner returned to the stand to revisit her earlier testimony during an evidence hearing. She said Mahato's killer used a 9mm handgun. She also stated shell casings reveal the same gun used in the Mahato murder was also used in the armed robbery involving the wounded Hispanic man.

Lovette is already serving a life sentence for the 2008 murder of UNC student body president Eve Carson. She was also kidnapped and forced to withdraw money from ATMs before she was shot to death.

The Mahatto murder happened in January 2008. Carson died in March.

On Wednesday, the former girlfriend of Lovette's accomplice in the Carson killing - Demario Atwater - testified. Shanita Love said she heard them talking about the Mahato killing.

"He took the man back to the apartment and he shot him. He put a pillow up to the gun and he shot," said Love.

But the defense maintains Love's story changed under police pressure and the promise she wouldn't be charged for helping to get rid of the weapon in the Carson case.

The state says it could possibly rest its case on Friday. There's no word yet on whether the defense will even present a case.

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