The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Laurence Lovette Jr., one of two men convicted in the death of former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student body president Eve Carson, must be resentenced because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding automatic life sentences of offenders under age 18 at the time of a crime.
Lovette, 22, was sentenced Dec. 20, 2011, to life in prison without the possibility of parole after being convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree armed robbery in Carson’s shooting death nearly five years ago.
The popular senior from Athens, Ga., was found dead in a neighborhood near the UNC campus on the morning of March 5, 2008.
In its ruling, the Appeals Court cited the Supreme Court decision – made after Lovette’s conviction – in which the court held that a mandatory sentence of life without parole for a minor at the time of a crime violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Lovette was 17 at the time of Carson’s death.
The Supreme Court ruled that judges must consider mitigating circumstances before sentencing someone under the age of 18 to life without the possibility of parole.
In response, North Carolina lawmakers passed a law that says the sentence should be life in prison with parole if someone under the age of 18 is convicted of first-degree murder solely on the basis of what’s known as the felony murder rule.