Lovette jury resumes deliberations Wednesday
Jurors in the first-degree murder trial of Laurence Lovette resume deliberations Wednesday after not reaching a verdict Tuesday.
The jury took a break in deliberations Tuesday in Durham County Superior Court to review photos and other exhibits in the courtroom after Judge Jim Hardin agreed to their request to provide them. Hardin denied the jury’s request to see transcripts of testimony.
Lovette, 23, is charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon and first-degree murder in the 2008 slaying of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato at Anderson Street Apartments near campus.
On Monday, the jury passed a note to Hardin, asking to see several exhibits that had been admitted as evidence, including a photo of a container on the victim’s bed. The note also asked about how witnesses are chosen and whether jurors can consider the absence of witnesses. It requested:
- Grand jury testimony in the 2008 murder of Eve Carson, UNC’s student body president. Lovette is serving a life sentence in her death.
- An audio recording Durham police made when they talked to Phillip Maybrey. In it, Maybrey said he was with Lovette the night Mahato was killed. The recording was played in court last week with the jury absent, but wasn’t admitted as evidence.
In response to the requests, Hardin it would be “improper for the court to provide a response to a question that gives the impression that it is commenting on the composition of the evidence in any case. All evidence that will be presented in this case has been presented.”
Hardin told jurors “it is now your duty to determine from the evidence” what the facts are.
The jury returned to the deliberations room, but sent the judge another note Tuesday morning asking to view photos of a Mercedes that Lovette allegedly stole the day before Mahato was killed. Jurors also asked to see transcripts of trial testimony involving two witnesses -- Phillip Maybrey and “T.T.” Maybrey.
Hardin allowed the jurors to look at the Mercedes photos in the courtroom, but denied the transcripts request, saying it might appear to place undue emphasis on one part of trial testimony. He said it was the responsibility of jurors, who have been allowed to take notes throughout the trial, to recall testimony.
Lovette is facing a life sentence if convicted of first-degree murder in Mahato’s death. He is not eligible for the death penalty, because he was 17 when Mahato was killed.