Owner of stolen Mercedes testifies in Lovette trial

Jul. 24, 2014 @ 07:24 PM

Margie Scott told a Durham County Superior Court jury that she and her husband, who live off Shannon Road, went to bed about 11 p.m. Jan. 16, 2008. She woke up about 3 a.m. and noticed a light on in her office and another room that had been off when they went to bed. She said drawers from a desk that had been closed were open.

Scott said she went back to bed, but when she woke up again at her normal time -- about 5:30 a.m. -- she was shocked by what she saw.

When she walked downstairs and opened the door, one of the couple’s two Mercedes was gone. She noticed her two purses that had been in her second-story bedroom were on the downstairs den floor.

“It looked like they had been emptied out,” she told the jury. “I was devastated by this because someone had been in our bedroom.”

Keys to her house and car, a wallet and phone were missing from the purses.

Further investigation showed entry was made through a side door that was off its frame, she said.

“It looked like someone kicked it in,” Scott said.

The burglary and thefts were discovered the morning of Jan. 17, 2008 -- the day before Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato was robbed and shot to death at Anderson Street Apartments near campus.

Lovette is charged with robbery and first-degree murder in his death.

Prosecutors believe Lovette drove the stolen Mercedes when he forced Mahato to go to an ATM and withdraw $520.

During testimony Wednesday, Shanita Love said she heard Lovette talk about stealing a Mercedes from a home while a woman was in bed sleeping.

Love is the ex-girlfriend of Demario Atwater, who is serving a life sentence for the March 2008 murder of Eve Carson, student body president at UNC Chapel Hill.

In other testimony Thursday, Heather Maddry, a crime scene specialist with the Durham Police Department, said she tested the stolen Mercedes for fingerprints inside and out but found none. She called it “odd” for a car as big as a Mercedes to have no prints. But she said she found “swipe marks” across the car’s exterior “like a cloth was used.”

North Carolina State Crime Lab technicians told the jury they analyzed hair and DNA from Mahato’s apartment and the Mercedes, but couldn’t match them to Lovette.

In opening remarks to the jury last week, Assistant District Attorney Jim Dornfried said the prosecution had no forensic evidence similar to a “smoking gun.” But he said Love’s testimony would provide strong evidence of Lovette’s guilt.

Defense attorneys have challenged Love’s credibility, saying her testimony has been inconsistent.