Ex-Virginia Tech student pleads no contest in girl's killing - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Ex-Virginia Tech student pleads no contest in girl's killing

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The body of 13-year-old Nicole Lovell was found on January 30, 2016; three days after she vanished from her Blacksburg home. The body of 13-year-old Nicole Lovell was found on January 30, 2016; three days after she vanished from her Blacksburg home.
David Eisenhauer David Eisenhauer
Natalie Keepers Natalie Keepers
CHRISTIANSBURG, VA (AP) -

After listening to days of damaging testimony from prosecution witnesses, a former Virginia Tech student pleaded no contest Friday to killing a 13-year-old girl he met through social media.

David Eisenhauer, 20, entered his plea to all three charges against him in the stabbing death of Nicole Lovell: first-degree murder, abduction and concealing a body.

The plea came on the fourth day of testimony at his trial. Prosecutors told jurors Eisenhauer, then 18, killed Lovell, a 7th-grader from Blacksburg, because he was afraid his relationship with the underage girl would become known.

A plea of no contest means a defendant acknowledges there's enough evidence to convict him, but doesn't admit he committed the crime. The plea has the same effect as a guilty plea. Sentencing is scheduled for May. The judge told Eisenhauer he faces up to life, plus 15 years.

Lovell's mother, Tammy Weeks, hugged prosecutor Mary Pettitt after the proceedings.

"I was blessed to be Nicole's mother, to be her friend for 13 years," Weeks later told reporters as she choked back tears. "We fought every fight together... She was a great and beautiful girl."

During opening statements, Eisenhauer's lawyer attempted to shift the blame to his alleged accomplice, Natalie Keepers, 21, who has been charged as an accessory before the fact and is scheduled to go on trial in September.

Keepers told police she and Eisenhauer talked about various ways to kill the girl and admitted she later helped dump her body in North Carolina after Eisenhauer stabbed her. She insisted that she wasn't present for the actual killing, but Eisenhauer's lawyers suggested she was there and could have been the one who killed Lovell.

Pettitt told jurors that Nicole and Eisenhauer had been communicating through social media for months and had met at least once in person before Nicole climbed out her bedroom window for a "secret date" with him just after midnight on Jan. 27, 2016.

Prosecutors said Eisenhauer's DNA was found under Lovell's fingernails and her blood was found in the trunk of his car.

Pettitt told reporters she is glad the case has been resolved, but said the justice system is "incapable of healing this loss for Nicole's family, Nicole's friends or the community."

"We all suffer with the loss of this little girl," Pettitt said. "I do hope that we have been able to do the best that the justice system can do to provide some resolution and some justice."

In a later interview, Pettitt told The Associated Press that prosecutors had planned to call a witness Friday who would have testified that she was 15 in the summer of 2015 when she met the 18-year-old Eisenhauer online and the two went on to have a relationship "of a romantic nature."

The witness, identified only by the initials "B.B.," would have testified that in December 2015, Eisenhauer told her that a girl named Nicole was contacting him and said that they had "messed around." Eisenhauer told B.B. he had met the girl at a party but later woke up on the side of the road and didn't remember what happened, Pettitt said.

Pettitt said B.B. would have testified that Eisenhauer began to talk to her about ways to "take care of his problem" and told her he had hatched a plan - with the help of a military buddy - to kill Nicole.

B.B. said that when she later asked Eisenhauer if he was involved in Nicole's death, he said she had fallen and cut her neck on a stick. The girl said Eisenhauer told her that the incident occurred "because he couldn't keep it in his pants," Pettitt said.

During Eisenhauer's trial, Weeks testified that she discovered her daughter had disappeared when she found a nightstand pushed up against her bedroom door and the window open. Prosecutors said Nicole climbed out her window to meet Eisenhauer.

Nicole's body was found three days later, just over the state line in North Carolina. A medical examiner testified that she had 14 stab wounds, including a lethal wound to her neck.

Juror Keith Johnson, 55, a maintenance engineer from Christiansburg, declined to say whether he was leaning toward voting guilty or not guilty, noting that Eisenhauer's defense lawyers "never got their turn."

"It was taxing to go through such a gruesome murder," Johnson said.

Eisenhauer, of Columbia, Maryland, and Keepers, of Laurel, Maryland, were both freshmen engineering students at Virginia Tech when Lovell was killed.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


A former Virginia Tech student has pleaded no contest in the 2016 killing of a 13-year-old girl.

News outlets report that David Eisenhauer entered his plea Friday to all three charges against him in the stabbing death of Nicole Lovell: first-degree murder, abduction and concealing a body.

The plea came on the fourth day of testimony in his trial. Prosecutors told jurors Eisenhauer killed Lovell because he was afraid she would expose his improper relationship with the underage girl.

A plea of no contest means a defendant acknowledges there's enough evidence to convict him, but doesn't admit he committed the crime. The plea has the same effect as a guilty plea.

Natalie Keepers, who also attended Virginia Tech, has been charged as an accessory and is scheduled to go on trial in September.

-By TOM FOREMAN JR. and DENISE LAVOIE
Associated Press


--Posted on February 8, 2018

Police testifying in the trial of a former Virginia Tech student charged with killing a 13-year-old girl have described finding a piece of paper with the girl's address on it in the defendant's dorm room.

David Eisenhauer is charged in the 2016 fatal stabbing of Nicole Lovell, a middle school student from Blacksburg. His lawyers have attempted to shift the blame to his alleged accomplice, Natalie Keepers, also a Virginia Tech student.

The Roanoke Times reports that prosecutors called several law enforcement officials Wednesday to testify about evidence they found, including a blood-stained shovel and a large blood stain inside the trunk of Eisehnhauer's car.

Jurors also watched a video of an interview in which Eisenhauer asked a sheriff's deputy if he believes there is enough evidence to convict him.

Information from: The Roanoke Times, http://www.roanoke.com

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


--Posted February 6, 2018

The Latest on the murder trial of a former Virginia Tech student charged with killing a 13-year-old girl (all times local):

3:55 p.m.

The mother of a 13-year-old Virginia girl who was stabbed to death has described how she discovered her daughter was missing.

Tammy Weeks was the first witness called by prosecutors in the trial of David Eisenhauer, a former Virginia Tech student accused of killing Nicole Lovell in 2016.

Weeks said she went to her daughter's bedroom and found a nightstand pushed up against the door and her window open. She said she immediately started calling her daughter's friends, then drove to the police station.

When a prosecutor asked Weeks when was the next time she saw her daughter, she replied: "In her coffin."

Prosecutors say Eisenhauer killed Lovell because he was afraid his relationship with the underage girl would be exposed.

During opening statements Tuesday, Eisenhauer's lawyer tried to shift the blame to his accomplice, Natalie Keepers, who was also a Virginia Tech student.

Keepers faces a separate trial in September on charges of being an accessory and concealing a body.

2:05 p.m.

A lawyer for a former Virginia Tech student accused of killing a 13-year-old girl told jurors it was his accomplice who was "deeply motivated" to kill the girl.

David Eisenhauer is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Nicole Lovell, a middle school student from Blacksburg.

During opening statements Tuesday at Eisenhauer's trial, a prosecutor told jurors he killed her because he was worried his relationship with the underage girl would get him in trouble.

But Eisenhauer's lawyers tried to shift the jury's focus to Natalie Keepers, Eisenhauer's friend and classmate at Virginia Tech. Attorney John Lichtenstein told jurors Keepers has a history of mental illness, a fascination with knives, and was "exhilarated" and "excited" when she discussed killing Lovell with Eisenhauer.

Keepers told police she was not present for the killing. She faces a separate trial in September on charges of being an accessory before the fact and concealing a body.

1:35 p.m.

A prosecutor has told jurors that a former Virginia Tech student made a "secret date" with a 13-year-old girl and stabbed her 14 times and cut her throat because he was worried about his relationship with the underage girl.

During opening statements Tuesday at the murder trial of David Eisenhauer, Commonwealth's Attorney Mary Pettitt told jurors that Eisenhauer had been communicating online with Nicole Lovell for months before he killed her in 2016.

Pettitt said the 18-year-old Eisenhauer had met Lovell at least once before she climbed out her bedroom window to meet him in January 2016. She said he left her in the woods, in the snow, to die after he stabbed her.

Another Virginia Tech student, Natalie Keepers told police Eisenhauer claimed he met Lovell at a party and may have had sex with her, but could not remember because he blacked out.

Keepers has been charged as an accessory and is scheduled to go on trial in September.

7:15 a.m.

Two years after the killing of a 13-year-old girl, jurors in the murder trial of a former Virginia Tech student are expected to hear details of her death.

Opening statements are scheduled Tuesday afternoon in the trial of David Eisenhauer. The former engineering student is accused of stabbing Nicole Lovell and slitting her throat after she climbed out her bedroom window to meet him.

Prosecutors say Lovell and Eisenhauer had developed a relationship through Kik, an instant messaging app.

Natalie Keepers, also an engineering student at Virginia Tech, told police Eisenhauer claimed he met Lovell at a party and may have had sex with her, but could not remember because he blacked out.

Keepers has been charged as an accessory and is scheduled to go on trial in September.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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