Lovette Will Not Face the Death Penalty

Jesse James Deconto and Stanley B. Chambers Jr., (Raleigh) News & Observer, March 15, 2008

Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., 17, faces two counts of first-degree murder, but he is too young to face the death penalty.

Authorities formally charged Lovette on Friday in the shootings of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato and UNC-Chapel Hill student body president Eve Carson. Demario James Atwater had already been charged in Carson’s murder.

Because Lovette is younger than 18, he is ineligible for capital punishment, even though he is charged as an adult. Jim Woodall, district attorney for Orange and Chatham counties, has not yet decided whether to pursue the death penalty against Atwater.

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Police have released few details about the Carson case. Carson was found dead near campus March 5.

Investigators say Lovette or Atwater shot her several times and tried to use her ATM card. Police also say Lovette drove her 2005 Toyota Highlander about the time of the crime.

On Friday, Tracey Cline, a Durham prosecutor, offered new details about how police connected Lovette to Mahato’s killing. Mahato, a 29-year-old engineering student from Bengal, India, was found shot Jan. 18.

Cline said in court Friday that investigators discovered Mahato’s stolen cell phone was used to call Atwater. Atwater, 21, of Durham has not been charged in Mahato’s death.

Cline also said that Lovette had other property of Mahato’s. And a vehicle tied to Mahato’s slaying was seen at a residence Lovette visited often, she said.

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A hearing for both Lovette and Atwater in the Carson case is scheduled for March 24 in Hillsborough. Lovette has a hearing in the Durham case scheduled for March 27.

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[Editor’s Note: Earlier stories on the Eve Carson murder can be read here.]

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