What comes to your mind when you think of “cruel and unusual punishment”? The vivid pictures from Hollywood movies that make your stomach churn, make you turn away, or even throw up in your mouth. How is a life without parole punishment that Eve Carson’s murderer received “cruel and unusual?” The murderer was convicted in when he was 17 of kidnapping, robbery, and murder.
By now you may have read that Laurence Lovette Jr.’s original sentence of life without parole has been overturned, but what does that mean going forward? It means that Lovette could be sentenced to life without parole again, or get a lesser sentence. A ruling by the United States Supreme Court in June 2012 said that under the Constitution’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishment,” a court cannot impose a mandatory sentence of life without parole for a defendant who was under the age of 18 when he committed the crime (Mandatory being the key word). When Lovette’s was originally sentenced it was a mandatory sentence. North Carolina then passed its own law to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling shortly thereafter. So his case will go back to court for a new sentence.
Left unanswered is the question of why a life sentence without parole is so horrible that Lovette’s case must get special attention. He was 17 when he and Demario Atwater kidnapped Eve Carson from her home in Chapel Hill, drove her to different ATMs to withdraw money, then brought her back to shoot and kill her.
If Lovette was just one year older the question of his punishment would not come into play. The question of whether or not his punishment is right is the first question the media is asking but, wasn’t what Laurence Lovette Jr. did to Eve Carson “cruel and unusual”? And this is not the only murder that he has been charged with!