UNC Student Eve Carson Begged Captors to Pray With Her Before They Killed Her, Says Murder Trial Witness

Beth Ely/The Daily Tar Heel/AP Photo

A witness in the first-degree murder trial of one of the men accused of killing University of North Carolina student Eve Carson said the co-ed pleaded with her alleged abductors to let her go and invited them to pray in the moments before they fatally shot her.

Jayson McNeil testified in Orange County Criminal Superior Court in Hillsborough, N.C., today that the defendant, Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., and Demario Atwater saw Carson - the Chapel Hill campus' beloved student body president - getting into her SUV early on the morning of March 5, 2008, and "rushed her."

McNeil said Lovette got into the driver's seat, while Atwater got into the back seat and held a gun to Carson's head.  Atwater has since pleaded guilty to federal charges that he kidnapped and killed Carson.  The 25-year-old was handed two life sentences.

Investigators have said the pair drove Carson, a 22-year-old Athens, Ga., native, to several ATM machines and forced her to withdraw money.

McNeil, a friend of Lovette's who testified in exchange for a sentence reduction in an unrelated federal drug case, said that during the abduction Carson tried to reason with her captors.

He described what Lovette, now 20, told him about the incident after the young woman was killed.

"He said the whole time Eve Carson was in the back seat she was pleading for her life and explaining that they didn't have to do what they [were] doing," McNeil said, according to ABC affiliate WTVD in Raleigh, N.C.

Police have said Carson was not sexually assaulted, but McNeil testified that Atwater touched her on parts of her body.

McNeil said Lovette and Atwater decided to kill Carson because she had seen their faces, and when she realized their intentions, she made another appeal.

"Before he ever shot her, he explained that she was saying, 'Let's pray,'" he testified. "She wanted them to pray together. She said, 'Pray with me.'"

Authorities say Lovette shot her multiple times all over her body, but the young woman didn't die immediately. She was still talking. That's when Atwater stood over her with a shotgun and fired, McNeil said.

The body of the blond-haired, brown-eyed student was found in the middle of a Chapel Hill, N.C., street later that day, rocking the serene college community.

An autopsy later determined Carson had been shot five times, including once in the head.

Lovette was a minor at the time of Carson's death. He faces life in prison if he is convicted. He is also charged in the murder of Duke University student Abhijit Mahato.