Posted on December 15, 2011

‘Let’s Pray Together’: The Heart-Breaking Plea by Kidnapped College Student to Her Captors–Just Minutes Before They Executed Her

Thomas Durante, Daily Mail (London), December 15, 2011

Eve Carson, the University of North Carolina student president brutally murdered by two thugs in 2008, pleaded for her life and even asked them to pray with her, startling court testimony has revealed.

The 20-year-old was kidnapped as she left the university library on March 5, 2008 and forced to take out money from an ATM before she was shot five times.

Jayson McNeil, of Durham, an acquaintance of the two men accused of killing Miss Carson, said in court yesterday that he was told what happened.

He said he was called by Laurence Lovette Jr., shortly after the arrest of his alleged cohort, Demario Atwater, who has already pleaded guilty to the killing.

Lovette, 20, of Durham, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, robbing and murdering Miss Carson.

McNeil testified that Miss Carson was walking to her car in the early morning when the attackers ‘rushed’ her.

They pushed her in the back seat of her car and took a terrifying trip to an ATM to withdraw $700, the daily limit.

McNeil said in court that from the beginning of the ordeal, she begged her attackers not to kill her.

He said: ‘Before she even got shot, she was saying let’s pray together.’

But despite her pleas, Miss Carson was shot four times with a .25 calibre pistol.

Then came a blast from a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun to her right temple, leaving a large gaping wound to her head and the hand she used to try and shield herself.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said the final shot was ‘instantly fatal.’

Her body was left where she fell, in the middle of a residential street near the university.

After the murder, the pair allegedly continued to return to ATMs, withdrawing the $700 from her account each time.

Miss Carson, 22, from Athens, Georgia, was the university’s popular student body president and a recipient of the highly regarded Morehead scholarship.

The North Carolina News & Observer reported that McNeil was a crack dealer at the time, who was known in the area for having easy access to cars.

He is testifying against Lovette in exchange for a lighter sentence in a federal drug case.

Atwater pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to two life prison terms.

Lovette will not face the death penalty if convicted because he was a minor at the time of the shooting. He could face life in prison.

Jurors winced last week as they were shown crime-scene photos of Miss Carson’s body, which was discovered by a Chapel Hill police officer who responded to a 911 call reporting the sound of gunshots and a woman’s scream shortly after 5am.

Shell casings lay on the asphalt near the body.

Miss Carson wore a gold locket around her neck. On her left wrist, she was wearing a paper bracelet she got earlier in the week at a Tar Heel basketball game, emblazoned with the phrase ‘Be True.’

Lovette’s DNA was found on the inside door of Miss Carson’s Toyota, according to the prosecutor.

Woodall said Atwater’s girlfriend will testify to the jury she was with Lovette as he disposed of pieces from the small-calibre handgun the defendant allegedly used to shoot Miss Carson in the cheek, arm, shoulder and buttocks.

Parts of that gun, including the barrel, were later recovered and matched to two bullets taken from Miss Carson’s body.

A man was also captured on surveillance footage using her card at an ATM.

Mr Woodall said the clothes and distinctive hairstyle of the man in the video will identify him as Lovette.

Defence lawyer Karen Bethea-Shields in her opening statement conceded that Lovette knew Atwater and that the prosecution will have evidence connecting her client to Miss Carson’s car.

But she denied Lovette was with Atwater when he shot Miss Carson with the shotgun. Many of the witnesses for the prosecution will have criminal records and motives to lie, she said.

‘There’s no forensic evidence to connect Lawrence Lovette to the killing of Eve Carson,’ Miss Bethea-Shields said.

She predicted to the jury that the prosecution’s case will leave them with more questions than answers, which she said will add up to reasonable doubt.

‘You will have questions about whether they really have any case at all against the defendant,’ she said.