Protecting the community comes first
Police in Durham, N.C., did a great job of tracking down and arresting Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., above, one of two suspects in the recent shooting death of Eve Carson, the 22-year-old student body president at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The real question is why Lovette was even on the streets when Carson was gunned down near the UNC campus. Lovette, 17, became a suspect when police reviewed surveillance videos taken at several ATMs and convenience stores in the area after Carson's murder, videos that police said appeared to show Lovette behind the wheel of Carson's SUV. And it probably didn't take them long to recognize him. He's been a frequent "guest" of local authorities. The arrests of Lovette and his co-defendant, 21-year-old Demario James Atwater, have raised serious questions about the work of the Department of Corrections, probation officials and judges in North Carolina. Lovette, who also is a suspect in the January shooting death of a Duke University graduate student, was on probation at the time of Carson's murder. In the months between the two killings, according to the Associated Press, he had been arrested several times on felonies that included burglary and car theft. Yet each time, he was allowed to post bond and hit the streets again. The handling of Atwater wasn't any better. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that Atwater, on March 3, appeared in court for revocation of his probation, but the hearing was postponed because of a paperwork foul-up. Two days later, Carson had a bullet in her temple. The Raleigh paper said Atwater originally was on probation for 2005 convictions on breaking and entering and larceny charges. In June of last year, he pleaded guilty to a new charge of possession of a firearm by a felon. One would suspect that his original probation would have been revoked immediately, and he would have been taken directly to jail. Instead, he was sentenced to probation again and was back on the streets. Finally, last November, authorities sought to have his probation revoked, leading to the recent botched hearing. The first responsibility of our legal system is to protect law-abiding citizens from the scum in our communities. When they fail in that regard, the consequences can be deadly.