Jim Woodall On Prosecuting Eve Carson’s Killer
CHAPEL HILL – It’s been a long journey for Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall in prosecuting Laurence Lovette Jr., one of two men convicted in former UNC Student Body President Eve Carson’s 2008 murder. Though Lovette was re-sentenced Monday to life in federal prison with out the possibility of parole, Woodall says it’s not a closed case yet.
“His attorney did give notice of appeal,” Woodall said. “He was resentenced under a brand new statute North Carolina enacted in response to the Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama so there maybe some additional hearings in this case. I hope there will not be.”
Lovette, now 22, was first convicted in 2011 of first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed robbery, and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
“I felt like Laurence Lovette was a person that couldn’t be rehabilitated. And I really do think he’s one of the most dangerous people I’ve encountered in my 25 years as a prosecutor,” Woodall said.
Demario Atwater, 25, was also convicted in Carson’s death. He is currently serving two life terms in prison after pleading guilty to state and federal charges.
Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour not only upheld the original life sentence of life in prison without parole for Lovette, but Woodall explains Baddour also added years on for kidnapping and armed robbery.
“That can be important because if there is ever a change in the law at some point, he would have to do whatever they decide life in prison is,” Woodall explained. “Let’s say that is 25 years—he would have to do that and then the consecutive terms for the kidnapping and armed robbery.”
Woodall says he argued Monday that Lovette had a history of crime—dating back to his adolescence.
“Until you sit down and go through it case by case, it’s hard to imagine how extensive it was,” the prosecutor explained.
Woodall says Lovette had 16 juvenile felony convictions and more than five misdemeanor convictions.
“He had plenty of opportunities to turn his life around and a lot of resources were put towards having him do that—but you can’t force anyone to do anything,” Woodall said.
This week, Woodall says Lovette will appear in court again regarding the January 2008 shooting death of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato. The mechanical engineering student from India was found dead inside his Durham apartment. Woodall describes it as a “very brutal case.”
In preparation for Monday’s hearing, Woodall prepared the Durham case as well. He expects Lovette will be tried for the murder of Mahato sometime in the near future.
If Lovette is convicted in the Mahato murder case, that could add more years to his life in prison sentence—which Woodall calls insurance if federal or state laws regarding re-sentencing ever change again.
“I believe Laurence Lovette is a truly dangerous predator. He preys on people and just does not care about people. And that’s why I’m so concerned and we are so committed to keeping him in prison for the rest of his life,” Woodall said.