UNC Murder Suspect Tied to Duke Slaying

Cops say one suspect arrested in the UNC murder also killed a Duke grad student.


March 13, 2008 &#151 -- The suspect who was arrested early this morning in the murder of University of North Carolina student body president Eve Carson has also been charged in the January killing of a Duke University graduate student, according to ABC News affiliate WTVD.

Lawrence Alvin Lovette Jr., 17, was taken into custody after police and SWAT team members surrounded a home where he was reportedly hiding, the Durham Police Department confirmed.

Police negotiators talked with him for an hour before Lovette surrendered at 4:15 a.m., WTVD reported.

Authorities had received a tip that Lovette was inside the house. His arrest came hours after police in Chapel Hill, N.C., announced first-degree murder charges against Lovette and Demario James Atwater, 21, in Carson's March 5 shooting death.

Lovette also faces murder and robbery charges in connection with the Jan. 18 slaying of 29-year-old Abhijit Mahato, who was found fatally shot inside his apartment near the Duke University campus, WTVD reported.

Mahaot was a doctoral candidate from India studying engineering, Duke officials said in a January release. Stephen Oates, 19, was arrested and charged with murder five days after Mahato's death.

Atwater was arrested early Wednesday during a raid of another house in Durham. He was handed off to Chapel Hill police, who are leading Carson's murder investigation, and charged with her murder in an Orange County, N.C., court.

Atwater was identified as the man caught on convenience store surveillance cameras moments before he tried to use Carson's ATM card after the UNC senior was last seen by friends around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 5 near the Chapel Hill campus.

The convenience store photos were the second set of stills released by Chapel Hill police in the past several days. Authorities say the man in the first photos -- taken at a local drive-through ATM as a young black male attempted to withdraw money using Eve Carson's card -- show Lovette.

Curran said authorities believe Atwater was the unidentified passenger in the backseat of the car driven by Lovette in the drive-through ATM surveillance photos. "We believe he was the man in the back of the car," Curran said Wednesday.

Curran would not discuss specific evidence authorities recovered linking the two suspects to the crime, but he did say that Atwater was taken to a local hospital for routine physical evidence collection.

The chief also would not comment on which of the two suspects authorities believe pulled the trigger when Chapel Hill police originally responded to reports of gunshots at 5 a.m. a week ago and found Carson, 22, shot several times, including once in the head. Her car, a Toyota Highlander, was recovered the next day parked on a nearby Chapel Hill street.

Durham is approximately 12 miles from Chapel Hill.

Investigators last weekend released the first set of surveillance stills, featuring a young, black male with long hair tucked beneath a Houston Astros baseball cap and a second person possibly seated directly behind the driver's seat.

A second set of surveillance images was released Monday night. The photos show a young, black male with long hair wearing jeans, sneakers and a black coat over a black shirt walking into a convenience store moments before someone used Carson's ATM card at the store's ATM.

Chapel Hill Police Chief Brian Curran said Monday night that the man was the only person in the store when the ATM card was used.

Originally, authorities said they believed the person in the store and in the car were the same man. Curran corrected that information this afternoon, announcing that Lovette was caught in the drive-through ATM tape and Atwater was seen entering the convenience store.

The UNC board of trustees had offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in Carson's killing. The pre-medicine double biology and political science major also served as a board member.

Search warrants filed in the case revealed that police found Carson's cell phone near a shopping center on the road that connects the towns of Chapel Hill and Durham. Authorities have not recovered her wallet or keys and are searching a student laptop and memory cards from her campus office.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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