Both sides rest in Lovette trial
After nearly two weeks of testimony from expert witnesses, investigators and other key witnesses, both the prosecution and defense rested in the Laurence Lovette trial.
Lovette is accused of killing Duke University student Abijit Mahato in 2008.
Defense attorneys made a motion to dismiss first-degree murder and robbery charges against Lovette. His attorney, Karen Bethea-Shields, asked for the charges to be dismissed based on insufficient evidence.
Prosecutors argued, though, that they had met the burden proof. “When you look at the ATM withdrawals, the property missing ... combined with the testimony Ms. Love has raised ... it is more than sufficient,” Assistant District Attorney Jim Dornfried said.
Judge James Hardin denied the defense’s request to dismiss charges.
The majority of Friday was spent covering the credibility of Shanita Love, whom was seen as one of the key witnesses to take the stand.
Love testified that she was told Lovette and Phillip Maybrey were involved in the robbery and death of Mahato in January 2008.
Love had also implicated Lovette and her then-boyfriend Demario Atwater in the March 2008 death of UNC Student Body President Eve Carson. Since March 20, 2008 Love has been the main source of information about the Carson murder.
The lead investigator into the Carson murder took the stand Friday. Investigator Celisa Lehew said that during the investigation, she formed a bond with Love, and that helped Chapel Hill investigators gain information.
Lehew said that Love was able to provide details about the Carson murder that only someone who knew who committed the crimes would know.
“She told us that Eve was in the back seat when the ATM video surveillance was taken ...” Lehew said. Lehew said investigators were able to enhanced ATM surveillance images to confirm Love’s information.
Yet, the defense team reminded Lehew that in March 2008 Love told interviewers she knew nothing about the “Durham murder.”
Then in October 2008 Love told Lehew that something was “weighing” on her. Lehew met with Love on Oct. 16, 2008, to assist her with a housing application. During that meeting Love described to Lehew the death of Mahato. Lehew did not record the conversation, but jotted down notes after the fact.
“I made some hand-written notations after I left Shanita (on Oct. 16),” Lehew said.
“Very brief, maybe four or five bullet points, and I did that prior to contacting Durham (investigators) so I wouldn’t forget anything.”
Love even went as far as telling Lehew that Durham police had arrested the wrong guy, after hearing news that Stephen Oates was being charged in Mahato’s murder. Charges against Oates were later dropped.
Defense attorney Kevin Bradley questioned Love’s initial statements in March 2008 concerning not knowing anything about Mahato’s death.
“When Shanita Love told you ... that Laurence Lovette and Phillip Maybrey killed a Duke student, were you surprised because what she had told you and Special Agent Stevens back in March of 2008?” Bradley said.
“Then that never really crossed my mind. I was shocked by the information,” Lehew said.
Earlier in her testimony she said Love described Carson’s killing as a “copycat” to Mahato’s.