CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – One of the two people found guilty in connection with the 2016 murder of a 13-year-old Blacksburg girl could have another day in court.
On Monday, the Court of Appeals of Virginia agreed to review Natalie Keepers' case.
In September 2018, a jury found Keepers guilty of being an accessory before the fact in the first-degree murder of Nicole Lovell. Before the trial, Keepers had already pleaded guilty to concealing Lovell's body.
Two months later, Judge Robert Turk sentenced Keepers to 45 years in prison, with five years suspended, matching the jury's recommendation of 40 years.
In May 2019, Keepers' legal team filed a petition for appeal on the basis that her statement to police should have been suppressed and that two jurors should have been struck for cause because they were biased against her, according to Montgomery County Commonwealth's Attorney Mary Pettitt.
The court's decision to grant the appeal isn't too surprising as Pettitt said the court frequently grants petitions alleging similar issues.
It typically takes a minimum of six months from the granting of an appeal until the court decides whether there were any errors, according to Pettitt.
Nicole Lovell's family issued this statement in response to the court's decision:
"This appeal is demeaning to Nicole Lovell and our family. This case has drug our family in and out of court rooms and caused many heartaches that is unrepairable. We as a family thought that Natalie Keepers received a light sentence like her co-defendant. We ask for prayers and the continuing support for our family as they once again drag this long process out even more, all we want at this time is our time to grieve and to get back Nicole's belongings (minions blanket)."
David Eisenhauer is currently serving a 50-year active sentence for abducting, murdering (first-degree) and hiding the body of Lovell.
Court records indicate he has not filed any type of appeal.