Killer in Eve Carson Case Seeks Parole Possibility

Laurence Lovette, one of two men who murdered UNC Student Body President Eve Carson back in 2008, is trying once again to get the possibility of parole attached to his life sentence.

But Orange & Chatham County District Attorney Jim Woodall, the prosecutor in Lovette’s murder trial, doesn’t think Lovette’s chances are very good.

“I have very high hopes that the appellate courts are going to find that Laurence Lovette’s re-sentencing was done properly, and that he will remain in prison for the rest of his life without possibility of parole,” says Woodall.

Lovette was convicted in 2011 of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, armed robbery and felony larceny for his role in Carson’s kidnapping and shooting death on March 5, 2008.

He and his convicted accomplice Demario Atwater are both serving life in prison without possibility of parole for crimes in connection with Carson’s death.

But Lovette’s lawyer is pushing for him to be re-sentenced, based on the fact that he was 17 at the time of Carson’s murder. As reported in the Daily Tar Heel on Wednesday, Lovette’s attorney Keat Wiles argued his client’s case in the NC Court of Appeals on Feb. 6.

Lovette’s defense is pointing to a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that life in prison without possibility of parole for someone younger than 18 when the crime was committed is cruel and unusual punishment.

Wiles argued that Lovette was denied due process because he was unable to take advantage of new sentencing guidelines that were in the works while his trial was ongoing. He’s asking for the possibility of parole after 25 years.

But Lovette did get a re-sentencing hearing last year, and Superior Court Judge Allen Barbour handed down the same punishment.

“And so in our case, at the re-sentencing, Laurence Lovette received another sentence of life without the possibility of parole, and I certainly hope that the North Carolina Courts find that the new legislation is constitutional, and that that is the ultimate punishment he receives,” says Woodall.

Woodall says he’s sure that the judge’s decision in Lovette’s June 2013 re-sentencing hearing was in compliance with the language of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, as well as sentencing legislation regarding minors, passed by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2012 and signed by then-Gov. Bev Perdue.

“The Supreme Court decision was based on two separate cases involving younger defendants,” says Woodall. “The essence of the Supreme Court decision is that someone who was less than 18 years old at the time the crime was committed can’t automatically receive a life sentence upon conviction – that a judge or a court must have the option, and must consider mitigating circumstances.”

Now it’s up to the North Carolina Court of Appeals to decide whether the essence of the Supreme Court’s decision was understood correctly in Lovette’s case. Woodall guesses that decision could take several months.

Death Penalty Off The Table For 2012 Double Homicide

ORANGE COUNTY –  Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall says his office won’t pursue the death penalty in a double homicide from 2012.

Facing charges are 20-year-old Curtis Kantawiti White, Jr. of Allie Mae Road in Cedar Grove and 24-year-old Ladelle Alverez Faucette of Apsley Drive in McLeansville.

Woodall says the families of the victims were consulted about level of punishment.

“We try to involve families as much as we can in almost any case where we have a victim,” Woodall says. “But I think in homicide cases there’s a lot more involvement, because it’s such a serious matter, and their losses are so great.”

Woodall says he believes that is something most district attorney’s offices do.

“The family doesn’t make the final decision, but it’s a very big factor in what we ultimately do,” Woodall says.

According to the Chapel Hill News, White and Faucette are charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon. They allegedly killed 52-year-old Phillip Johnson and 68-year-old Alexander “Skip” Wade in an attempted robbery at the Week in Treasures thrift store on Mill Creek Road in Cedar Grove.

Woodall says the trials could start this summer. If convicted, the men are facing life in prison.

Nyang'o-Who U?

Although the deposed Julius Nyang’oro had been teaching at UNC for 20 years, during which time taking Swahili had become somewhat of an inside joke among athletes, the period about to go under the microscope of the SBI is the summer of 2007 through the end of 2009.  

Julius Nyang’oro

Coincidence, or precisely between when Butch Davis began coaching at Carolina and his program fell under investigation by the NCAA? The very first piece of this so-call academia was Marvin Austin’s “B” grade in an upper level course he took the summer before enrolling as a freshman at UNC in 2007.  

Nyang’oro was supposed to have taught that course, but it is still unclear whether it was one of the 45 that the former department chair arbitrarily turned from accelerated summer lectures into, “There will be no classes, just come back at the end of the semester with a paper about a prominent black leader.”  

Or some such non-sense.  

Austin then enrolled as a full-time student. One of his first-semester courses in the fall of 2007 had the adjective “remedial” attached to it. From advanced to remedial in one easy lesson, which is that a number of unqualified “student-athletes” Davis signed should have been at lesser schools or junior college somewhere.  

Austin, of course, was the centerpiece of Davis’ first freshman class, for which fired assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator John Blake took and got most of the credit. Austin had been highly sought around the country after a star high school career in Washington, D.C., but not by Carolina. Yet the smooth-talking Blake waltzed up there and bagged the big guy.  

That turn of phrase reminds me how one former UNC assistant coach under Dick Crum cracked over the summer, “Hell, everyone knew Blake was the bag man.”  

Anyway, enough of that.  

After Blake signed up Austin, you can envision a parallel conversation going on between the Davis camp and Nyang’oro that went something like: “We’ve got this stud defensive tackle coming in and he’s going to play for us right away. We need to kick start his GPA so there is no chance of him being ineligible after his first season.”  

Sounds like a summer school course from “Easy B” Nyang’oro was the answer.  

With so many classes that were supposed to be lectures turning into “come back with a paper” capers, it’s easy to see how tutors like Jennifer Wiley were pressed into overtime duty. Of course, the most publicized of which was Michael McAdoo’s plagiarized piece that got him thrown off the field by the NCAA and kicked out of Superior Court after he filed suit to regain his eligibility.  

The time frame of all this is so curious one has to wonder why the preceding football regimes at UNC only had passing knowledge of Nyang’oro and his department in the first place. One former UNC coach remembers watching a game on TV and seeing a player’s bio come up on the screen with the major “African Afro-American Studies.”  

He said, “What the hell is that?”  

Carolina grad and Orange/Chatham County District Attorney Jim Woodall has called on the SBI to investigate this era of Davis, who by the way UNC still owes $1.8 million in severance pay even though the Butcher has taken another job with the Tampa Bay Bucs. But not to coach, only advise.  

Sure, let’s pay Davis the 1.8 mil and then ask him to cover Carolina’s legal fees in this last episode of the scandal that clearly crossed the line.  

All former football coaches and players know that summer has been the time for getting/keeping kids eligible, all the way back to when I was in school. In my day, it was Portuguese and education classes taught by Dr. Unks and Dr. Lovingood to beef up your GPA. Now, it’s Swahili and a bunch of other “Easy B” courses where athletes seem to migrate.  

But as Roy Williams said snippily a week or so ago, “They went to class and did the work that was assigned to them.” Maybe all the basketball players did, but apparently not all the athletes enrolled in Nyang’oro U.  

African Afro-American Studies is, or was, a legitimate major at UNC in the College of Arts & Sciences. Chancellor Holden Thorp was the Dean of Arts & Sciences for the 2007-08 school year, when the big trouble was just brewing. The notion that Thorp’s job could be in jeopardy is ludicrous, since it was obviously a football-engineered scam that turned the department into a sham over the last four years.  

The most recent annual salary for Nyang’oro, who is being forced into retirement as of July 1, was $159,000 plus a $12,000 stipend for chairing the department. He also made $12,000 a summer for courses he was supposed to be teaching. The News & Observer reported last week that Nyang’oro was paid $120,000 for summer school work during his tenure. Some of which was never actually done. Some of which was taught outside the course description. Some of which resulted in grades that were changed and faculty members’ names forged on the forms.  

All to be untangled by Woodall and the SBI, which can find criminal fraud if any of the cheating was conducted on state property or equipment.  

Let’s hope it happens quickly and the right people are held accountable.