Thursday, March 13, 2008

Two Arrested in Eve Carson Murder

Durham, N.C. — Authorities on Thursday charged one of the suspects in the slaying of the University of North Carolina student body president Eve Carson with the January killing of a Duke University graduate student.

Lawrence Alvin Lovette Jr., 17, of Durham, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Abhijit Mahato just hours after his pre-dawn arrest in the Carson case.

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Mahato, 29, originally of Tatangar, India, was a doctoral student in computational mechanics. He was found in January, shot to death inside his apartment a few block south of Duke's campus.
Lovette and Demario James Atwater, 21, were charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in the death of Eve Carson. The 22-year-old was found last week lying on a street about a mile from the North Carolina campus in nearby Chapel Hill. The biology and political science major of Athens, Ga., had been shot several times, including once in the right temple.

Authorities also charged Lovette with robbery with a dangerous weapon in Mahato's killing.

Separately, he was charged Thursday with misdemeanor larceny, communicating threats, contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile and common law robbery.

Police had already charged Stephen Lavance Oates, 19, of Durham, with murder in Mahato's death. Oates is being held without bond on charges of robbing 18 people, including Mahato, whose wallet and cell phone had been taken.

Lovette remained in Durham police custody Thursday morning, said Chapel Hill police Lt. Kevin Gunter. It wasn't immediately clear when he would be transferred to their custody or make an initial appearance on the murder charge, he said.

Police surrounded a home on Cook Road in Durham after getting an anonymous tip around midnight that Lovette was inside, said Durham police Lt. Robert McLaughlin Jr. Negotiators worked for over an hour and a half to establish communications, and Lovette eventually surrendered peacefully at 4:16 a.m.

Atwater made an initial court appearance Wednesday in Hillsborough. Shackled at the ankles and waist, and with a public defender at his side, Atwater only whispered "yes" when asked if he understood the charges against him. His next court date was set for March 24, and he was ordered held without bond.

"I hope the arrest can ease the minds of some in the community," said Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall.

Chapel Hill Police Chief Brian Curran would not say Wednesday which suspect detectives believe shot and killed Carson.

State records indicate both suspects are currently on parole. Lovette was given a suspended sentence in January for misdemeanor larceny and breaking and entering. Atwater was convicted of felony breaking and entering in 2005 and illegal possession of a firearm in 2007. He also received a suspended sentence.

In the days after Carson's death, police focused their investigation on a several ATM and convenience store surveillance photos.

Police believe Lovette was pictured in two photos taken at an ATM, driving Carson's Toyota Highlander while Atwater is in the back seat. Police also believe Atwater was the suspect shown trying to use Carson's ATM card inside a convenience store.

Curran has previously declined to say when the surveillance photos were taken or the exact location of the ATM and convenience store, or if any money was successfully withdrawn from Carson's account.

Carson's death led to a massive outpouring of grief at North Carolina. The school's Board of Trustees offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in her death, and police received hundreds of tips after the first two photos were released over the weekend.

Associated Press writer Erin Gartner reported from Raleigh, and AP writer Bernard McGhee contributed from Atlanta.

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