Witnesses recount first hours of Carson murder in first day of testimony
In the early morning hours following a stormy night more than three years ago, Alexandra Bokinsky said her soon-to-be-born daughter was making it difficult for her to stay asleep.
As she was lying in bed in her house on Marilyn Lane, Bokinsky jumped up to look out her window after hearing what she thought were gunshots and a woman yelling.
“It was like bang, a yell, bang, bang, bang. I looked out the window and didn’t see anything, and then I woke up my husband and called 911,” she said to an audience of about 30 people in a Hillsborough court room Wednesday morning.
Bokinsky was the first of a chain of state witnesses that testified in the trial of Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., a 21-year-old Durham man who is charged with the March 5, 2008, murder of former UNC Student Body President Eve Carson.
Lovette is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, armed robbery and felony larceny. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Following Bokinsky’s description of the phone call she made to the Chapel Hill Police Department at 5:08 a.m., District Attorney Jim Woodall called Sgt. Scott Falise to the stand to tell the jury what happened when he left Bokinsky’s home to search the Hillcrest Drive area behind Bokinsky’s house.
“I saw an object in the road about 50 yards in front me and thought it was a large branch,” Falise said recalling the nights earlier storms. “When I got closer, I realized it was a female with a large injury to her right temple.”
Officer Brian Wheeler, who arrived at the scene just minutes after Falise, said during his testimony that when he walked up to the scene he immediately saw that the victim had been shot in the head.
“Officer Falise asked me to check the victim’s pulse, and I remember I stopped and thought, ‘What’s the point, judging by her wound?’” he said.
But the description of the large hole in the victim’s temple — later determined to be Carson’s — was only the beginning of the graphic evidence the state presented to the jury.
Woodall showed the jury 12 photographs of the crime scene as evidence. The photos included images of each of Carson’s five wounds and pictures of the four .25-caliber shell casings officers found at the scene.
Wheeler said police were at the scene from about 5:20 a.m. until just after 9 a.m.
While officials investigated the murder of the unidentified victim throughout the day and into the night, Carson’s roommate and friends noticed she was missing and contacted the police.
Carson’s roommate, Justin Singer, told the court he had been studying at his nearby fraternity house while Carson studied at their house on the night of March 4 into March 5. He returned briefly to the house around 1:30 a.m., and Carson was in the living room — but when he came home at 4:30 a.m., the front door was open and Carson and her laptop were gone.
Singer said he thought Carson might have gone to print a paper at the student government office because they did not have a printer at their house.
But later that day, Anna Lassiter, another of Carson’s roommates, received an email while on her way home from an interview in Boston about a shooting victim in Chapel Hill — a blonde woman wearing a gold locket — who resembled Carson’s description.
She said she had a bad feeling and thought about the email after Carson missed their dinner plans, so she began to call their friends to find out if anyone had seen her.
After she could not locate Carson, Lassiter went with Singer, their other roommate and a friend of Carson’s to the police to file a missing persons report.
Lassiter said police showed her a photo of the victim of that mornings shooting.
“It was just her face with a gunshot through her cheek,” Lassiter said. She said she told police she believed it might be Carson, but was uncertain.
“I did, but I didn’t want to admit it,” she said.
Carson was wearing several items that night that helped to identify her and played into later testimonies.
Lassiter said she and Carson had recently gone to a Nike event on campus where they were given “be true” wristbands and high-top sneakers. The victim was wearing a wristband.
After determining that the victim was Carson — which police officially did at 9 a.m. the morning of March 6 — and that her car and cell phone were missing, police searched for the items.
The court heard testimony about how police used a K-9 unit to locate Carson’s LG cellphone in a wooded area off of 15-501 and located Carson’s car parked outside of witness Kent Evans’ residence on North Street.
Nathan Chambers, a Chapel Hill police department investigator, said when Carson’s vehicle was located, it had a bag of red apples, a Nike box and Nike high-tops in the passenger seat.
Margaret Wurth, who went to a basketball game with Carson the night of the murder, told the jury that Carson was wearing the high-tops, a white t-shirt, and a Carolina jersey at the event.
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