Durham News

July 18, 2014

Durham judge rejects request to dismiss murder case against Laurence Lovette

Laurence Lovette is on trial in Durham, accused of murdering Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato

Judge Jim Hardin on Friday turned back a request by defense attorneys for Laurence Lovette to dismiss the case against the 23-year-old accused of murdering Abhijit Mahato.

Hardin, the Durham Superior Court judge presiding over the trial, held a hearing Friday on the defense team’s claims that Durham police notes from the homicide investigation were turned over very late in the case.

The ruling means opening statements in the trial will be Friday morning.

Lovette, a North Carolina prison inmate, is already serving a life sentence after being convicted in 2012 of murdering Eve Carson, the UNC-Chapel Hill student body president.

The homicides of Mahato, a Duke University graduate student from India, and Carson, a popular student leader in Chapel Hill, were linked.

Investigators from Durham and Chapel Hill shared information. They also relied on information from federal prosecutors, who convened an investigative grand jury on the crimes and called witnesses from Durham with knowledge about the crimes.

Hardin ruled that defense attorneys Karen Bethea Shields and Kevin Bradley had not presented sufficient evidence to show that Durham police and the district attorney’s office had not acted in good faith and intentionally withheld information from Lovette’s team.

The judge plans to limit testimony, but he added that information included in the notes was echoed in other police reports and witness statements that had come to the defense team for the Mahato and Carson cases.

Mahato was 29 when he was found dead in his apartment near Duke on Jan. 18, 2008. He had come to Durham from Tatangar, India, as a graduate student at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering. He was in his second year, studying computational mechanics. He had hopes of returning to India to teach at the university level, according to his friends.

Mahato’s wallet and cellphone were reported stolen from the apartment in addition to an iPod that Lovette had when he was arrested on March 13, 2008 for the Carson murder.

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