Sentencing to begin Tuesday for David Eisenhauer
Former Virginia Tech student found guilty of murdering Blacksburg teen
CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – The next chapter in a high-profile murder case in the New River Valley is scheduled to unfold Tuesday.
David Eisenhauer is set to learn his punishment in the 2016 death of Blacksburg 13-year-old Nicole Lovell. There are two days set aside for sentencing in front of a judge in the Montgomery County courthouse in Christiansburg.
Lovell’s mother, Tammy Weeks, gave an emotional statement after the February trial.
“I was blessed to be Nicole's mother, to be her friend for 13 years,” she said. “We fought every fight together but this last one. She was a bright and beautiful girl.”
People called her daughter Coley. Her story got national attention after she went missing in January of 2016.
Investigators say former Virginia Tech student David Eisenhauer, 21, convinced her to climb out her bedroom window before taking her to a wooded area and stabbing her to death.
During the trial, Eisenhauer changed his plea to no contest, agreeing that the evidence was enough to find him guilty for the charges of murder, abduction and hiding a body. A judge found him guilty on all three charges. He faces the possibility of life in prison.
Weeks posted to Facebook Monday morning, saying she and her father will be speaking in court. She asked for prayers and for everyone to wear blue or a blue ribbon Tuesday in honor of Nicole.
Commonwealth's Attorney Mary Pettitt can’t reveal who will speak in court, but she told 10 News people will be able to provide impact statements, as expected.
Liberty University law professor Phil Kline told 10 News Monday that there are steps the defense can take when showing evidence in sentencing proceedings.
"They can bring in evidence that demonstrates that they did not necessarily have the mental culpability that the court might think that he had considering the charge, but he’s not in a position to try to assert that he is innocent in any fashion," he said.
Kline believes Eisenhauer will likely get the upper end of the 20-years-to-life sentence, but he may not be in prison for life.
"The judge has some discretion here based upon the nature of the crime," he said. "It’s not capital murder that he’s pled to, so the fact that he’s young may weigh heavily for the court in determining whether, at some point in time, this man can be released safely back into the public."
Eisenhauer, who was a freshman at Virginia Tech when Lovell died, is from Columbia, Maryland.
He’s had a high-profile team of defense attorneys led by John Lichtenstein and Tony Anderson.
Prosecutors said evidence shows Eisenhauer met Lovell at a party.
Many people and agencies focused efforts on the search for Lovell when she disappeared from her family’s Blacksburg house. She had undergone a liver transplant and needed daily medication, but she had left home without the medicine.
Police found her body near the North Carolina border three days after she went missing.
Autopsy results showed Lovell was hit with a shovel and had been stabbed 14 times. Most of the wounds were to her head, but she also had wounds to her neck and chest area. Forensics showed Eisenhauer’s DNA was under Lovell’s fingernails, and her blood was found in the trunk of his car.
Text conversations from their phones, revealed during Eisenhauer’s trial, showed he was worried he got Lovell pregnant. He told someone he needed a place to hide a body and confirmed to another person that she was dead.
Physical evidence included a bloody stick and Lovell’s bloody Minions blanket and bloody underwear.
Evidence showed Eisenhauer’s GPS gave investigators his location at multiple points in the criminal acts. It puts his car near Lovell’s house, where her body was found and at a Walmart where he bought a shovel, which forensics later showed to be stained with Lovell’s blood.
Other evidence showed he searched the internet to find out how he should try to hide Lovell’s body.
10 News will be in the courtroom and will have updates throughout the sentencing, which is scheduled to begin Tuesday around 10 a.m.
Another former Virginia Tech student, Natalie Keepers, 20, is accused of helping plan the murder and helping Eisenhauer move and hide the body. She’s scheduled to stand trial beginning Sept. 17.
She faces a charge of accessory to first-degree murder before the fact, which has the possibility of a lifetime sentence. She also faces charges for improper disposal of a body and accessory before the fact.
Keepers is from Laurel, Maryland.
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