HILLSBOROUGH — In the last, terrifying hours of her life, prosecutors contend that Eve Carson came in contact several times with a system of communication, surveillance and security - an ATM.
That system, despite its sophisticated interconnectedness, was not equipped to summon help.
On Thursday, the second day of testimony in the trial of Laurence Alvin Lovette, the 21-year-old Durham man accused of kidnapping, robbing and murdering Carson, jurors saw images and heard the record of transactions on Carson's ATM card following her abduction on March 5, 2008.
Some argue that people in such circumstances might be saved if the banking industry would provide an option of punching in panic codes, or reverse PINs, to silently alert law enforcement officers that they were in danger.
Though such an idea might have broad appeal initially, banking representatives say test cases have shown that ATM alert systems are not effective.
"Many banks have tried reverse PINs and determined it doesn't improve consumer safety and in many cases it can put a consumer in more danger," said Ryan Zagone, a spokesman with the American Bankers Association.
On Thursday, Bank of America representatives testified about details of the ATM activity on Carson's account.
Stan Godwin, a vice president of customer relations for Bank of America, said there were eight attempts within an hour on March 5 to withdraw money from Carson's checking and savings account -at University Mall in Chapel Hill and at Northgate Mall in Durham.
The last withdrawal was at 4:44 a.m. in Durham, less than 30 minutes before Carson was found dead in a Chapel Hill neighborhood about a mile from campus and her home.
Over the next 32 hours, there were nine more attempts to withdraw money from her account. Seven hundred dollars were withdrawn before the bank put a stop on her account, Godwin said.
Prosecutors contend that Lovette and an accomplice kidnapped Carson from her home about 3:30 a.m. March 5, then drove her in her Toyota Highlander to ATMs in Chapel Hill and Durham. Bank of America representatives testified that after $700 had been withdrawn in one 24-hour period - the daily limit allowed on Carson's card - ATMs denied several more attempts to withdraw money. Overall, $1,400 was withdrawn.
Zagone, speaking generally, said the banking industry had rejected panic codes and reverse PINs for numerous reasons. Typically, Zagone said, law enforcement officers were unable to get to ATMs quickly enough to ward off robberies.
The industry also worried that customers might panic trying to recall emergency codes and tip off robbers that they had summoned help.
The industry, he said, has not embraced one common system as it works to improve safety for its customers. For now, ATM providers rely on good lighting and surveillance cameras as deterrents.
Images from surveillance cameras at an ATM, a convenience store and a UNC-CH sorority house were introduced by prosecutors on Thursday in the Lovette trial.
In one image, prosecutors contend, Lovette is pictured at a Bank of America ATM at the time that Carson's bank account was accessed near University Mall.
The image shows a man at the steering wheel of what prosecutors contend is Carson's Toyota Highlander. Though it is difficult to see clearly, prosecutors and others contend that Carson can be seen in the back seat of the same image, leading investigators to believe she was alive at the time of some of the bank withdrawals.
Also on Thursday, a 2010 UNC-CH graduate testified that she saw two men walking near Carson's home shortly before investigators believe she encountered her attackers.
Caroline Harper, a UNC alumna from Concord who now lives in Alexandria, Va., said she had just finished talking to her boyfriend on her cellphone about 3:30 a.m. on March 5 when she saw two black men in their late teens or early 20s standing in the parking lot of her sorority house.
Harper, who said she did not get a clear view of the men's faces, recalled that they wore dark, baggy clothes and hooded sweatshirts, outfits similar to those that investigators say Lovette and his accomplice were seen wearing in surveillance images.
"They were standing there looking at me," Harper said. "It was just a couple of seconds before I got really frightened and drove away."
DeMario Atwater, 25, pleaded guilty last year to kidnapping, robbing and murdering Carson. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Investigators say Atwater told his girlfriend what happened that night, and prosecutors said in opening statements this week they planned to call her as a witness.