Name: Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr.
Victim: Eve Marie Carson, 22
Age at time of murder: 17
Crime location: Chapel Hill
Crime date: March 5, 2008
Partner in crime: Demario Atwater, 21
Crimes: Carjacking, abduction, kidnapping, armed robbery, larceny, murder, & killing to eliminate a witness
Weapon: .25 caliber handgun & 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun
Murder method: Gunshots to the shoulder, arm, buttock, cheek, and head
Murder motivation: Preventing Eve from telling others about the crimes committed against her
Convictions: First-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, robbery w/ a dangerous weapon, larceny, attempted breaking and entering of vehicles, & misdemeanor breaking and entering
Sentence: Life without parole (LWOP)
Incarceration status: Incarcerated at the Columbus Correctional Institution
Lovette and Atwater kidnapped UNC student body president Eve Carson at gunpoint, robbed her, and then fatally shot her to eliminate her as a witness, disregarding her many pleas for mercy. Eve’s last words were: “Pray with me.” Lovette shot the 22-year-old college senior four times with a .25 caliber handgun, including in the face. When Eve managed to survive, Atwater shot her in the head with a 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun, murdering her execution style. Lovette was accused of murdering Duke University engineering student Abhijit Mahato as well, but was acquitted of that charge. Lovette was sentenced to LWOP and his sentence was upheld.
Details of the crime
In the early morning hours of March 5, 2008, Eve tried to walk to her car. Atwater and Lovette “rushed” her and forced her into the car at gunpoint. They then abducted her. Lovette drove while Atwater sat in the back with Eve, holding a gun to her head. The kidnappers drove the terrified 22-year-old to several ATMs and robbed her. They also threatened her several times. The robbers obtained $700 at a Bank of America ATM at University Mall in Chapel Hill and failed to acquire money at an ATM in Durham. Lovette later told an acquaintance that Atwater “was fiddling with her clothes and touching her in certain parts of her body.”
Lovette later admitted that Eve tried to reason with her captors, telling them that they did not have to commit these crimes. She also begged for her life, telling the robbers that they could take whatever they wanted and that they did not need to kill her. But the kidnappers showed no mercy. Eve had seen their faces. They wanted to prevent her from reporting the crimes they had committed against her. In order to silence her and avoid getting caught, they took her to a densely wooded neighborhood about a mile from UNC to murder her. When Eve realized that Atwater and Lovette were about to kill her she tried again to reason with them, asking them to “pray with me.” The end for Eve came anyways.
Lovette shot Eve four times with a .25 caliber handgun. The bullets pierced her right shoulder, right upper arm, right buttock, and right cheek. Lovette later told a friend that Eve was still alive and moving around after sustaining these injuries. Additionally, blood was found in Eve’s lungs during her autopsy, confirming that she was still alive and breathing after being shot with the handgun.
Atwater fired the fifth and fatal shot with a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun. This shot went through Eve’s right hand (indicating that she tried to shield herself) and into her right temple and brain. It was this shot that gave the offenders what they wanted–Eve’s death. A forensic psychologist and criminal profiler stated that the manner in which Eve was shot showed a “complete lack of regard for another person.” Though Lovette did not fire the fatal shot, he is responsible for her death as he was acting in concert with Atwater. The assailants left Eve’s bullet-ridden body in the road and fled.
Both assailants were apprehended. Atwater pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life without parole (LWOP). Lovette’s case went to trial and he was found guilty. He was also sentenced to LWOP. After Miller v. Alabama, the North Carolina Court of Appeals vacated Lovette’s sentence and ordered a new sentencing hearing. Lovette was again sentenced to LWOP. He then appealed his sentence, arguing that had he known about the future Miller ruling and future North Carolina laws prohibiting LWOP for juveniles not convicted of first-degree murder, his lawyers would have made different decisions during the trial, including conceding his guilt to the underlying felonies involved and focusing more on defending against premeditation and deliberation as a basis for the murder. He also argued that the trial court had too much discretion in the sentencing procedure and that his LWOP sentence was cruel and unusual because he was not “irretrievably corrupt.” In 2014 the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed Lovette’s sentence. The Court found that “[t]here is no evidence that defendant
failed to appreciate the risks or consequences of his actions.” They noted that Lovette did not have a minor part in the crime, but was an active participant. “In the events surrounding this
conviction, defendant was an active participant in all phases, from procuring the vehicle used to drive to Chapel Hill, to the commission of the murder itself. Defendant appears to have led his older co-defendant, Demario Atwater, through the commission of the crimes.” Towards the end of the opinion (click on the hyperlink above to read the entire opinion), the Court wrote the following:
The trial court considered the circumstances of the
crime and defendant’s active planning and participation in a
particularly senseless murder. Despite having a stable, middleclass home, defendant chose to take the life of another for a
small amount of money. Defendant was 17 years old, of a typical
maturity level for his age, and had no psychiatric disorders or
intellectual disabilities that would prevent him from
understanding risks and consequences as others his age would.
Despite these advantages, defendant also had an extensive
juvenile record, and thus had already had the advantage of any
rehabilitative programs offered by the juvenile court, to no
avail, as his criminal activity had continued to escalate.
Defendant was neither abused nor neglected, but rather the
evidence indicates for most of his life he had two parents who
cared deeply for his well-being in all regards.
The Court also wrote that the killer had “a lengthy juvenile record that exhibits a pattern of escalation of criminal activity.” Lovette also was accused of murdering Duke University engineering student Abhijit Mahato as well, but he was acquitted at trial. More information on Lovette’s criminal history can be found on our page on Dangerous Early Release (Lovette is example 24 in the Dangerous Early Releases of Juvenile Criminals category). Atwater’s criminal history is explained in the Other Dangerous Early Releases section (example 52). Eve’s slaying is also detailed in Is Life Without Parole For Juveniles Cruel And Unusual?
Lovette’s infractions during his time in prison
05/09/2019 DISOBEY ORDER
11/03/2015 PROFANE LANGUAGE
11/03/2015 THREATEN TO HARM/INJURE STAFF
10/13/2014 INVOLVEMENT W/GANG OR SRG
08/06/2012 POSS AUDIO/VIDEO/IMAGE DEVICE
03/29/2012 SUBSTANCE POSSESSION
Childhood friend of accused Carson killer gives details about murder by The Daily Tar Heel
Eve Carson murder case timeline by WRAL
Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr.’s life sentence vacated Tuesday by The Daily Tar Heel
Appellate court keeps life without parole for Lovette in Eve Carson slaying by The Charlotte Observer
Laurence Lovette appeals life without parole sentence by The Daily Tar Heel
STATE of North Carolina v. Laurence Alvin LOVETTE, Jr (North Carolina Court of Appeals February 5, 2013)
STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA v. LAURENCE ALVIN LOVETTE (North Carolina Court of Appeals May 6, 2014)
Jury finds Lovette not guilty of Duke student’s murder by The News & Observer