HILLSBOROUGH — Closing arguments are set for Monday in the trial of Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., the 21-year-old Durham man who passed on his option to take the stand in his defense.
The jury is likely to get the case Monday afternoon and begin deliberations that will determine the fate of Lovette, one of two men accused of murdering Eve Carson, the 2008 UNC-Chapel Hill student body president.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers will work with Judge Allen Baddour much of today to fine-tune instructions he will read to the jury before they go behind closed doors to deliberate.
Lovette is accused of kidnapping, robbing and murdering Carson in the pre-dawn hours of March 5, 2008.
The accomplished student leader was found shot to death, with four handgun wounds to her buttocks, arm, shoulder and cheek, and a shotgun blast in her temple.
Prosecutors contend Lovette fired the first four shots, inflicting wounds the medical examiner said would not have been immediately fatal.
DeMario Atwater, 25, pleaded guilty last year to kidnapping, carjacking, robbing and murdering Carson. Prosecutors contend he fired the immediately fatal blast from the shotgun.
Lovette pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
His defense team presented no evidence in the case. Lovette's lawyers maintain that key witnesses for the prosecution - acquaintances of Atwater and Lovette who have had their own brushes with law enforcement - have "bias" and "motive" to implicate their client.
Throughout their cross-examination for the past seven days, the defense team of Karen Bethea-Shields and Kevin Bradley have asked questions of witnesses about whether they or others might have been at the crime scene.
Bethea-Shields said in her opening statement that no forensic evidence would link Lovette to the murder.
But testimony from Atwater's girlfriend and others link him to a handgun that investigators found broken up in Durham that matches bullets found in Carson's body.
Investigators found DNA on the driver's side paneling of Carson's Toyota Highlander that matched Lovette, according to testimony.
Lovette's cell phone was in Chapel Hill, about three-tenths of a mile from Carson's home a half hour before prosecutors contend she was abducted, according to cell phone records introduced this week by the FBI and Verizon representatives.
Prosecutors contend Lovette is pictured in surveillance camera images in the driver's seat of Carson's Highlander, reaching toward an ATM machine where her card was used shortly before her death.
On Thursday afternoon, an SBI agent testified that he enhanced that footage to a point where he could see there were two people in the back of the Highlander.
A 20-year-old man testified earlier this week that Lovette told him hours before his arrest that Atwater had forced Carson into the back seat of her Highlander, and as the pair drove her from ATM to ATM, she prayed and pleaded for her life, asking her abductors to pray with her.