HILLSBOROUGH — Orange County Judge Allen Baddour delayed Friday’s resentencing of Laurence Alvin Lovette for murdering UNC-Chapel Hill student body president Eve Carson in 2008.
Lovette’s attorney, Karen Bethea-Shields, asked that the hearing be postponed because a psychologist the defense team planned to call as an expert was at court in Fayetteville for a different case.
The hearing moves to June 3, when Lovette, 22, and his attorneys will call witnesses and try to persuade the judge that he should not have to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Prosecutors will present evidence arguing Lovette should receive the same life sentence without parole handed down on Dec. 20, 2011, when a jury found him guilty of kidnapping, robbery and premeditated murder.
Carson’s brother, Andrew, came to Friday’s hearing from Boston, where he lives now. He declined comment on the resentencing.
The case was sent back for a new sentencing hearing by the state Court of Appeals after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in another homicide case involving a teenager. The nation’s highest court ruled in June 2012 that an automatic sentence of life without possibility of parole for people who were younger than 18 when the murder occurred was “cruel and unusual punishment” and a violation of the Eighth Amendment.
States were forced to change laws because of that ruling. In North Carolina, a judge now must hold a sentencing hearing to consider mitigating factors before issuing a life sentence with no possibility for parole if the person convicted of premeditated murder was younger than 18 at the time of the crime.
Although the case ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court was nearly 13 months after Lovette’s trial, the state Court of Appeals ordered that his sentencing be heard again because the case was still on appeal and the life sentence not yet finalized.
Lovette was 17 in March 2008, when prosecutors contend he and DeMario Atwater kidnapped Carson, 22, from her home early in the morning. They forced Carson into the back seat of her SUV, drove her to ATMs and withdrew cash. Carson’s body was found near dawn in the middle of the street in a wooded Chapel Hill neighborhood about a mile from her home and the UNC campus. She had been shot four times with a handgun and once with a shotgun. Atwater, who is serving life in prison, for murder, kidnapping, robbery and carjacking, fired the shotgun. Lovette fired the first four shots, investigators said.