Keepers' trial next scheduled development in Lovell murder case

Liberty University law professor Phill Kline gives insight into proceedings

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – The next scheduled development in the murder case of Blacksburg 13-year-old Nicole Lovell is a jury trial for Natalie Keepers. She’s accused of being the accomplice of David Eisenhauer, who a judge ruled Tuesday will spend the next 50 years in prison for her murder.

Keepers’ trial is scheduled for Sept. 17. Her charges bring a similar range of sentencing as Eisenhauer’s.

She is facing a charge for accessory to first-degree murder before the fact, which has the possibility of a life sentence. She also faces charges for improper disposal of a body and accessory before the fact.

Liberty University law professor Phill Kline, the former Kansas Attorney General and chairman of the Republican Attorneys’ General Association, said she could face the same jail time as Eisenhauer.

He believes there’s a strong chance there will be a plea deal before the trial, but there are some aspects that could cause either side to prefer letting it play out in court.

“The defense for Ms. Keepers is in a very difficult posture right now,” Kline said. “The evidence seems very strong that she seems to be an accessory before the fact and I think it’s likely that, if she’s proven to be an accessory before the fact, she will face a very severe sentence as well.”

He thinks the commonwealth’s attorneys may go for a plea deal, but only if Keepers waives her right to contest any of the evidence in the case. There has been disputes over some of the evidence related to Keepers’ statements to investigators, specifically regarding when officers read Keepers her Miranda rights.

He believes the defense will likely go after a plea deal, unless there are arguments they’ll make that haven’t been made public.

However, he believes the best chance for the defense to have evidence tossed out will be on appeal. If the two sides reach a plea deal, that will likely include Keepers waiving her right to contest evidence.

He said the judge’s decision Tuesday in the Eisenhauer sentencing showed how seriously the judge views the crime.

“This is a particularly egregious crime. The judge took the nature of the crime and the level of culpability of Mr. Eisenhauer into account,” he said.

He said it’s likely that Eisenhauer will testify against Keepers in the trial now that a judge has sentenced him. Eisenhauer can’t reject a subpoena based on his Fifth Amendment rights because he’s already been found guilty.

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