Chapel Hill News

July 29, 2014

Jurors in Lovette murder trial end day’s deliberations without verdict

The jury in the trial of Laurence Alvin Lovette went home Tuesday without reaching a verdict.

The jury in the trial of Laurence Alvin Lovette went home Tuesday without reaching a verdict.

Superior Court Judge Jim Hardin told the attorneys that he was going to call it a day about 5:15 p.m.

“I’m going to let them go home and let them have a fresh start in the morning,” Hardin said.

He told the jurors to return at 9 a.m. Wednesday to continue their deliberations.

Lovette, 23, is charged with armed robbery and first-degree murder in the death of Abhijit Mahato, 29, a Duke graduate student who was found shot to death in the bedroom of his apartment on Anderson Street on Jan. 18, 2008.

The jury began deliberating Monday after closing arguments but returned to the courtroom Monday afternoon with requests to see some of the evidence. On Tuesday morning, Hardin allowed them to review written documents and photographs if those items had been admitted into evidence during the trial.

The jurors were allowed to review some written documents, photos from the crime scene and photos of a silver Mercedes Benz, but they were not allowed to review transcripts of some of the testimony that occurred during the trial.

Key witness

Prosecutors presented a case to the jury without any physical or forensic evidence that linked Lovette to Mahato’s death.

Instead they had to rely on the testimony of Shanita Love, who was living with her boyfriend, Demario Atwater, his mother and his younger half-siblings in an apartment off South Roxboro Street at the time of Mahato’s murder.

Love testified that Lovette came to the apartment in the morning after Mahato was shot and killed and that she heard him talking about taking Mahato to an ATM in a stolen Mercedes, withdrawing money from his account and then taking him back to the Anderson Apartments, where he shot him in the head.

She also testified that as Atwater and Lovette drove her to work that morning, they drove past the Anderson Apartments, and Lovette said the body was still in the apartment and had not yet been discovered because there were no police officers in the parking lot.

Carson killing

Both Atwater and Lovette are serving life sentences for killing UNC-Chapel Hill’s student body president, Eve Carson, on March 5, 2008.

Love called the Carson killing a copycat of the Mahato killing because in both cases, Lovette targeted a student, took the student to an ATM machine to withdraw money from the student’s account, and then shot and killed the student.

However, in the Mahato case, Love said it was Atwater’s younger half brother, Philip Mabrey, who was with Lovette when they took Mahato to the ATM. Mabrey has not been charged in the case.

In the Carson case, it was Atwater who was with Lovette when they kidnapped Carson, drove her to the ATM and killed her. She also testified that Lovette shot Carson several times with a handgun, and that Atwater fired the fatal shot with the sawed-off shotgun that the Mabrey-Atwater family called “the baby gauge.”

Mahato’s family is not attending the trial because they are in India, according to Assistant District Attorney Jim Dornfried.


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