HILLSBOROUGH — After being convicted of murdering Eve Carson and sentenced to life in prison, Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr. paused Tuesday before being escorted from the courtroom, looked at his mother and tapped his fist to his heart.
Take heart, seemingly, was his message from a man whose acts of violence against a pleading victim had just been described as especially heartless.
The jury of seven men and five women spent just shy of three hours in deliberations before rendering verdicts in a trial that included seven and a half days of testimony.
They found Lovette guilty on all counts - first-degree murder, which carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole, kidnapping and robbery, crimes that brought two more sentences totaling 28 years.
Neither Lovette nor Bob and Teresa Carson, parents of the victim, the admired and accomplished 2008 UNC-Chapel Hill student body president, chose to speak to the court.
The Carsons asked District Attorney Jim Woodall to convey their thanks to all who helped investigate, prosecute and preside over the trial of one of two men who killed their daughter.
The other man, Demario James Atwater, 25, is serving a life sentence in federal prison for his part in the crime.
Woodall described Lovette as a "brutal murderer" from whom the public "needed to be protected" as he urged Judge Allen Baddour to give the harshest sentences allowed by law.
Baddour did after offering a few observations from the trial.
Despite the culmination of a sometimes graphic and painful trial, the Carsons would continue to suffer a huge loss in their lives, left to cherish the memories of a daughter, who in just 22 years, accomplished more than many do in lengthy lives.
"I sense from the family of Ms. Carson that they understand the inadequacy of the court system in making this situation right," Baddour said. "This act has no place in society. It is not activity that we can allow to occur ... The life Ms. Carson lived was too short, but I know that she continues to be an inspiration to thousands ... That is small consolation, I know, but I hope it will be some consolation to her parents and family."
The jurors left the courtroom swiftly, declining to discuss their deliberations.
It was quiet, too, on the UNC-CH campus where three years, nine months and 17 days ago Carson was an active senior, winding down her term as student body president and contemplating a future where the world was seemingly at her feet.
Prosecutors say Carson was abducted as she stepped out of her home in the pre-dawn hours on March 5, 2008.
They say Atwater and Lovette forced her into her car and drove her to ATMs where they withdrew cash from her account.
Carson's body was found near dawn lying on the street of Chapel Hill neighborhood about a mile from her home.
She had been shot four times with a handgun and once with a shotgun.
"Eve's death was a tremendous loss - for us at Carolina and for her family and friends," Chancellor Holden Thorp said Tuesday in a prepared statement. "She did so much good in the short time she was with us. That's what I'll always remember."
Woodall stood in a near-empty courtroom after the proceedings and talked about how the case had touched him and so many who never knew Carson.
"She was extraordinary," Woodall said, "and at the same time she was a (typical) college student."
She was a procrastinator who waited until the 11th hour to finish papers for school.
She kept a messy car with all the trappings of college life inside.
She could have been the student in the dorm next door, Woodall said. "We all saw our daughters, our nieces," sisters and friends, he added.
Defense attorney Karen Bethea-Shields said Lovette was disappointed by the verdict but prepared for it.
"This was a difficult case," she said.
Plans for appeal were announced, which is routine in such cases.