CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) FEBRUARY 9, 2018
The trial of David Eisenhauer came to an abrupt end Friday with a judge finding Eisenhauer guilty on all charges related to the 2016 murder of Christiansburg teenager Nicole Lovell.
In an unexpected move Friday morning, Eisenhauer's attorneys entered a Montgomery County courtroom and asked a judge to "re-arraign" their client. Eisenhauer then entered pleas of "no contest" on all of the charges he was facing. With that action Eisenhauer waived his right to a trial along with his right to defend himself or make an appeal in the case.
Following his conviction Eisenhauer could face a sentence of life in prison. He will learn his formal punishment at a later hearing.
If the trial would have continued, prosecutors planned to read a series of messages between Eisenhauer and Keepers, him and Lovell, and him and a friend.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Patrick Jensen read those messages from Eisenhauer's phone aloud. Chat logs occurred after Lovell died.
Eisenhauer wrote on January 29, 2016, "I looked up what police do for missing kids. Three are 12,000 missing kids in VA. They do basically nothing. Like, it is sad. They get 30 reports or runaways a day 87% that don't return after a few days are never found. I guess we figure out how people commit mass murder."
He went on to say, so as long as nobody finds the body for a week it will never be traced. We definitely did over kill but that's good. Always go overkill when your life is on the line."
Another conversation between Eisenhauer and a juvenile named B.B. was read aloud in court. In December of 2015 the defendant told her that he had met a girl at a party. The girl had contacted him that they had messed around. She understood this to mean sexually. The defendant began talking to B.B. about ways to get rid of his problem. The defendant told her that he had talked to a friend from the military and that they had the murder planned out.
He told B.B., "I'm cleaning my car in the parking lot at Tech. The one with with no cameras and eight dumpsters." B.B replies, "That's not safe." Eisenhauer writes, "Somebody already rolled up and asked why I'm cleaning the outside of my car. I said because it's dirty and it needs it."
Later in the chat B.B. writes, "Maybe bring some protection one of these times we hang out." Eisenhauer replies, "With all this **** that came about because I couldn't keep it in my pants I think I'm done for a little bit."
A second extraction of Eisenhauer's phone was done by the FBI. There was a text message string from January 24th through January 26th. Between Eisenhauer and a Bryce Dustin. These texts happened before Lovell went missing. Eisenhauer asks Dustin if he remembers his "little problem." Eisenhauer writes his original plan failed. He later says he needs a place to hide a body "in case it goes really bad." There wasn't a response for three hours. Eisenhauer again asks Dustin if he knows of a place to hide a body. Dustin never responded.
David later deleted his Kik account with the username, Dr_Tombstone.
Through the FBI extraction, Eisenhauer visited websites called human decomposition explored, Texas State University's body farm collects skeletons for research, how long does it take the cops to look for you if you run away, how long and hard do cops look for runaways.
The FBI also did an extraction of a computer found in Eisenhauer's dorm room. It shows a number of Google searches that happened on January 24th, 2016, before Lovell disappeared. Those searches include, lakes near Blacksburg, Virginia, how to destroy something, how do destroy something completely, most creative ways to destroy things, how long does it take to burn a body, how hot does gasoline burn, how hot does kerosene burn, how hot does rubber burn, how hot does ammonia burn, what melts through flesh, how hot does it have to be before flesh burns, what temp does bones burn, how long does it take to get a third degree burn, what is used to ID a body, how does Dexter get rid of bodies, tranquilizer, knockout drugs, and medicine that makes you fall asleep instantly.
On a download of a phone belonging to Natalie Keepers, a conversation was found between Keepers and Dr_Tombstone on Kik. On January 3rd, 2016, Eisenhauer wrote, "An idea came to mind. So what we do is break in. Swap out depression meds for for cyanide caps, but them by her bed, take phone and iPod and destroy them, only a matter of time before she takes a pill."
On an iPhone 4 that was found in the Vet. Med. pond at Virginia Tech, the FBI was able to extract a limited amount of info due to the damage to the phone. Files show conversations between Eisenhauer and Lovell on Kik, starting on December 2015. On January 3rd, 2016, Lovell writes, "Dear David, you are my crush, but I know you don't think of me like that, but I don't care. I will always be here if you're looking for a good time. I'm here when you have a bad day, I'm here and I don't want that to change. I want to be in your life for as long as you can stand me and I know I'm annoying and I ask for too much, but I'm a girl and I have a heart and feelings, and my feelings get hurt a lot but it's never been hurt by you, and I like that so yeah, I'm too stupid to think that you actually want to stay in my life But if you don't, I'll just have a life, bye."
Eisenhauer later responded, " So here is what I'm thinking and I'll give you some options. 1) We take a break from talking for a bit until I get back to a semi normal routine then I'll message you. A few weeks at most. 2) We keep talking just as friends and see how that goes. 3) We don't talk again. 4) We stay friends and keep in contact and I'll be here when you need me."
The last communication on Lovell's phone was found with a date January 25th, 2016, in the same Kik message. Eisenhauer writes, "But I can't stress enough that you don't tell anyone about me, because they will find a way to hurt you." Lovell replies, "Who will hurt me? Who's they? Why are you scaring me? Do you even want to be with me? Do you trust me? You're scaring me? I'm going to go."
9:55 a.m.: David Eisenhauer has been found guilty on all charges related to the murder of Nicole Lovell, after changing his plea to "no contest" on all charges.
9:27 a.m.: The fourth day of testimony began with Eisenhauer’s parents turning their back to cameras before the trial resumed. The court started 26 minutes later than it typically has during this trial. Eisenhauer was re-arraigned. He pleads no contest to all charges.
He could get life plus 15 for all charges together, the judge tells him. The commonwealth reads through the evidence Eisenhauer’s attorneys objected to the day before. Text messages between him and Natalie Keepers discussing what to do with the relationship with Lovell. Eisenhauer says he struggles to “keep it in his pants.”
FEBRUARY 8, 2018
4:00 p.m.: Detective Desiree Twigger from the Blacksburg Police Department is once again called to testify, this time about data extracted from Natalie Keepers’ phone. Twigger is able to separate contacts and messages from the phone. She found addresses and user accounts on the phone. One account username was “Hugsalskdjfhg,” the account name was Rachel Goldsparrow, this is a Kik account assigned to the email firstname.lastname@example.org. Underneath the contacts on the phone are four contacts including a David A., David E., David Eisenhauer, and David Eisenhauer Facebook Messenger.
John Lichtenstein asks Judge Robert Turk to remove the jury and objects to the introduction of the evidence that was about to be discussed in open court. Lichtenstein says his team filed a motion to see how this data and information would be entered and says at this point the information it is hearsay. He says the electronic conversations don’t prove they’re from the actual parties involved. He asks the court not to allow this to be presented in court. The Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Patrick Jensen says there is not much they need to do to authenticate the phones, the usernames, or the messages on the phones came from the parties involved. Jensen says he wants to submit these conversations keeping Keepers messages not for the truth of the matter but mainly for what Eisenhauer said in the conversation, to give context.
The judge says the commonwealth has the right to submit this as evidence and present it to the jury.
Lichtenstein asks for time alone with their client, Eisenhauer. The judge grants five minutes away from the court room. He then calls Natalie Keepers attorney to the bench, John Robertson. The two have a discussion then Roberson hands papers to the Circuit Court Clerk. When the attorneys return, they leave the room again with the Commonwealth’s Attorneys team. Meanwhile, Eisenhauer is returned to his seat in the courtroom and stares blankly at the table in front of him and continues to keep his head down. During this waiting period, Esienhauer’s parents remain in the gallery. His mother wipes her eyes and lays her head on her arms rested on the bench in front of her. His father stands against a wall.
When the full team enters the judge dismisses court for the day.
3:10 p.m.: Cory Bartoe, also from the Virginia Department of Forensic Sciences, is a forensic scientist. He was called to give testimony on fingerprints found on pieces of evidence submitted from the Blacksburg Police Department. He found seven latent prints on container of wipe containers. A latent print is a finger print that is not readily visible and comes from an unknown source. Five out of the seven belonged to David Eisenhauer. Two of the prints on the container were of poor quality.
Bartoe found three fingerprints of the shovel, two of them belonging to Natalie Keepers, who again is also charged in connection to this murder. The third print wasn’t readable. On the bleach container found in the back seat of the car there were four prints found and all four belonged to Keepers. Lastly, on the Walmart bag found in the Virginia Tech dumpster there were three finger prints found. Three fingerprints were found, all three belonged to Keepers.
John Lichtenstein begins cross examining and asks Bartoe to look through his notes of analysis for a green knife, women’s black boots that belonged to Keepers, gym bag, phone charger, and gray hoodie. None of those items were submitted to be examined. Lichtenstein asks if the zipper on the navy suitcase was ever submitted for examining. Bartoe says it was not.
Bartoe said some of the prints from the shovel shaft were in blood, neither of the prints were from the Keepers palm.
2:40 p.m.: After a short break testimony continues with Nicole Harold, the forensic science supervisor. She extracted blood stains on the gym bag, the DNA matched Nicole Lovells. A picture of blood stains on a minions blanket is proved to belong to Lovell. The same goes for a pair of female underpants. Blood was collected from the waistband. Harvey said she was not able to extra DNA from four cleaning clothes and one wash cloth that had blood.
A stick with hair fiber and blood on it was examined. The blood belonged to Nicole Lovell. Harvery was not able to use testing to pull DNA from the hair.
Boots, attorneys say belonged to Natalie Keepers, had blood stains on it. The blood belonged to Nicole Lovell. Harold is shown a picture of a shovel, and again tells the court the blood belonged to Lovell. Tony Anderson asks why some pieces of evidence were tested forensically and others were not. Harvey said she doesn’t always examine evidence that are found in groups.
1:25 p.m.: Detective Mike Czernicki is recalled to give testimony. He received and delivered evidence that were collected. Nicole Harold, forensic science supervisor at the Virginia Department of Forensic Science in Roanoke, is called to give testimony. She is considered an expert in forensic evidence and explains what DNA is and how it works, how evidence is examined, and how that evidence is examined for DNA.
She examined blood and created a DNA profile from Eisenhauer, Lovell, and Keepers. Clippings from Lovell’s fingernails had a foreign DNA on it. Keepers DNA was ruled out, Eisenhauer’s DNA could not be ruled out. DNA collected from the tire, trunk, and back seat, wet one’s container, and shovel all belonged to Lovell. There were blood on all of those items. The blood from cleaning gloves including the ones collected at Virginia Tech also belonged to Lovell, Eisenhauer and Keepers’ DNA were eliminated. She said there was not enough DNA inside a pair of cleaning gloves to determine who had worn them. They had Lovell’s blood on them.
1:20 p.m.: Travis Harvey is now called into the courtroom. He worked for the Blacksburg Police Department and was present when a forensic examination was completed of David Eisenhauer at a hospital in Roanoke.
1:00 p.m.: Julie Wesel with the Hokie Passport Office at Virginia Tech is now giving testimony. She’s explaining the purpose of the Hokie Passport, a card used for students, and employees of VT. Patrick Jensen, the assistant commonwealth’s attorney, asks specifically about accessing buildings and how that process works.
She is showed an access log from a data base from 2015 to 2016 that’s focused on David Eisenhauer’s Hokie Passport usage and Natalie Keepers passport usage. Wesel reads off certain entries into buildings made by both cards belonging to Eisenhauer and Keepers.
Tony Anderson, Eisenhauer’s attorney, asks specifics about how the card process works.
11:20 a.m.: Kale Craver with the Blacksburg Police department now explains he collected evidence that Blacksburg officers had previously pulled from dumpsters in an overflow parking lot on the Virginia Tech campus. Those items were a wad of napkins, a cleaning wipe, a cleaning wipe with a red stain, two rubber kitchen dish washing glove, and a blue latex glove. All those items collected for evidence were then put in an evidence room at the Blacksburg Police Department.
Tony Anderson, a defense attorney, asks if Craver was also at the Vet. Med. Pond investigation scene where a phone was found. He says he was. He also found a green handled knife in a hole on the property.
11:15 a.m.: Officer Jason Brooks is on the stand now, saying he joined Officer Austin Sumners searching through dumpsters in an overflow parking lot on the Virginia Tech campus. When he arrived the bleach bottle was already out of the dumpster. Brooks removed bubble wrap and cleaning wipes with a reddish stain on them.
11: 00 a.m.: Officer Austin Sumners from the Virginia Tech Police Department is called to give testimony. He was called to an overflow parking lot on campus to do a search in connection to the missing persons search. He looked in a dumpster and saw a blue plastic glove with yellow residue on it. He also looked through a blue dumpster with a plastic Walmart bag with a bleach bottle inside. Tony Anderson, Eisenhauer’s attorney, begins asking Sumners questions.
10:00 a.m.: Detective Desiree Twigger is called back to the stand. She testified Wednesday. Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt shows her pictures of Keepers and Eisenhauer walking through the Walmart store in Christiansburg on January 26, then purchasing and leaving with a shovel. Pettitt shows pictures of still frames of surveillance video from Cookout in Blacksburg. The pictures show Eisenhauer and Keepers walking into the restaurant. This is before Nicole Lovell was reported missing.
Pettitt now shows screen shots the Wytheville Walmart trip. This is a series of photos of them walking through the store with sales associates and walking out with a plastic bag.
Pettitt switches gears, talking now about where Lovell’s body was found in North Carolina and Crown Ridge Road, Eisenhauer’s Galax address, which is near the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Tony Anderson, Eisenhauer’s attorney again shows screenshots of surveillance videos talking about boots Keepers wore during her trips to the Walmart stores and Cookout. Twigger said she took boots from Keepers for evidence.
Anderson shows Twigger a photo of boots with what appears to be salt stains on them belonging to Keepers. She said she had never seen the photo.
9:50 a.m.: Chance Harrington, who was the Asset Protection Employee at the Wytheville Walmart in January 2016. He provided a copy of a sales transaction and a video to law enforcement. A receipt shows what was bought at the time Eisenhauer is alleged to have been at the Walmart. Harrington says cleaning gloves, disinfecting wipes, and bleach cleaner.
Tony Anderson, Eisenhauer’s other attorney shows a screen shot of surveillance video from the Walmart showing appears to be Eisenhauer and Keepers entering Walmart.
9:00 a.m.: The day starts with the jury hearing testimony from Deana Jones from the Blacksburg Police Department. She analyzed spreadsheets full of data from the data in David Eisenhauer’s GPS specifically looking at data from January 26 and 27. Jones reads a power point presentation of each movement from Eisenhauer’s GPS. The Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, Patrick Jensen, shows Jones a receipt from Walmart that matches the time on the GPS. The receipt was for a shovel and aerosol.
The GPS shows movement to the Cookout Restaurant in Blacksburg, then cuts off at Craig Creek Road. It shows movement again on Fairfax Road, where investigators have previously said Natalie Keepers lives. The GPS is tracked driving through Blacksburg, again to Christiansburg, and around the Virginia Tech campus. On January 27, the GPS marked points on Craig Creek Road, later to the Rural Retreat exit, then back to Wytheville, eventually over to Walmart.
Later plots show movement on 81, to 77 and then onto route 58 in Carroll County. The GPS shows movement onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and then back onto Coulson Church Road.
John Lichtenstein begins questioning Jones about how she is able to extract data from the GPS. She explains she had to manually pull data and plot points.
Lichtenstein shows a large poster board map of a corner of campus, showing the GPS makes points up Southgate Drive, through Beamer Way, where the GPS marks a stop at the intersection with Washington Street, the on to the I Lot on campus.
FEBRUARY 7, 2018
4:00 p.m.: Michael Via from the Blacksburg police takes the stand. He was assigned to go to a crime scene on Craig Creek Road on January 31st 2016. He testifies that he went to the road with an evidence collection team with the FBI to take possession of evidence that was collected at that scene.
3:25 p.m.: Defense attorneys began showing pictures of a suitcase found in Natalie Keepers’ dorm. Czernicki said they were not ones he took. Prosecutors objected to the pictures being shown and there was a brief recess.
When court returned, the defense showed a picture of a piece of evidence that was the suitcase wrapped in brown paper. Following pictures showed a navy blue suitcase. Blood was spotted on the zipper of the suitcase. Inside is a minions blanket with blood stains. Nicole Lovell’s mother said earlier in testimony that that blanket was missing from her daughter’s room.
A stick fragment and women’s underwear as well as a towel with a strong cleaning agent smell were in the bag Czernicki said.
A picture of a sock is shown with what Czernicki says also has a blood stain on it. A stack of 48 used cleaning wipes were photographed after being removed from this duffle/gym bag. Czernicki pointed out blood stains throughout the bag. A closer image of the stick from the bag also had blood stains on it and a hair fragment, the detective says.
Discussion went back to the shovel, at this point it’s laying on the witness stand in front of Czernicki. He points out a bloody palm print on the shovel handle. He says the shovel was sent for forensic testing. Tony Anderson lists multiple items that weren’t examined, like hair and fiber from the Eisenhauer’s Lexus.
Czernicki says he was with the Assistant Medical Examiner Gayle Suzuki when she performed the autopsy on Nicole Lovell.
1:40 p.m.: Detective Mike Czernicki from the Blacksburg Police Department is now giving testimony. He helped during the investigation at the pond at Virginia Tech. He explains he obtained the paint can after it was collected from the bottom of the pond.
The commonwealth switches gears to a few days before. Czernicki was also called to Craig Creek Road. He was looking for an area known as a paintball field, two or three miles outside route 460. He, along with other law enforcement officers saw lots of footprints and tire marks in the snow.
He was called to another location on Craig Creek Road, about a half mile from 460. There were tire tracks, and a red stain on the road. It was determined to be blood through a series of tests.
Czernicki searched Eisenhauer’s car, after getting a search warrant. The car was transported to the Radford Police Department in a temperature controlled bay.
Pictures of inside the car show a GPS device found the car, a bottle of cleaning fluid, and a shovel. In the trunk of the car were paper towels, wet wipes, and a large deposit of blood. Some of those items had blood in them. Detectives took samples from the truck to test for blood.
There was another stain of blood found on the outside of the car on the front right tire of Eisenhauer’s Lexus. There were also blood stands on the shovel and on the back seat. Czernicki also showed the shovel, by taking it out of the evidence bag and showing it to the jury.
Eisenhauer’s attorneys begin asking how the evidence is collected, numbered, and stored.
1:26 p.m.: Trooper Christopher Grzelak with the Virginia State Police is the next on the stand. He was called to search a pond at Virginia Tech for a cell phone. He dived into the pond and searched the bottom of that pond. He found an iPhone, it was placed into a paint can evidence container. It was given to the lead investigator.
Eisenhauer’s attorneys ask if Trooper Grzelak helped found a knife in the pond. Other VSP recovered a knife also in the pond. It was found near the phone discovered. Other troopers thought Grzelak and his dive team had dropped the knife in their search, they had not. It was kept and collected as evidence.
12:55 p.m.: Shaun Caudell, with the Virginia State Police is now on the stand. He conducted a search of David Eisenhauer’s dorm room at Virginia Tech. He helped collect items from Eisenhauer’s room. All items of evidence were handed over to the Blacksburg Police Department. He collected Eisenhauer’s checkbook, with a Galax address on it. Pictures of the evidence are shown on a large screen in the court room. An envelope was also collected in the room, and a Lexus key fob.
Eisenhauer’s attorneys have objected to nearly every piece of evidence the commonwealth has submitted for evidence.
The next picture shown is a trash can with a Walmart receipt in it. It lists a shovel and aerosol. Three computers were found during his search also. Another item collected was a backpack with a condom wrapper, a runner’s number, and a green piece of paper that says We Are Virginia Tech. That paper also has Nicole Lovell’s address on it. Eisenhauer’s attorneys had earlier objected to the jury seeing that information.
11:45 a.m.: As the judge prepares to go to lunch, he calls in Natalie Keepers’ attorneys to talk about Eisenhauer’s attorneys request to call her as a witness. Her attorneys have made a motion to keep her from being called as a witness. Judge Robert Turk says he will take the motion under advisement and will make a decision when the time comes. She’s currently in custody.
11:20 a.m.: Detective Scott Craig, from the Blacksburg Police Department, was part of the investigation in the search for Nicole Lovell. He helped with extracting data from Eisenhauer’s cell phone twice. He did the same process with extracting data from Natalie Keepers’ phone. Craig did not review the report of the extracted information. Neither of these phones have been reviewed or data extracted since this first extraction happened, Craig says. The defense attorneys comments that the program used to extract that data only picks up certain information.
11:00 a.m.: Blacksburg Police Department Detective Ryan Hite is now called to the witness stand. He was tasked to find and question Natalie Keepers, who’s also charged in connection to this murder and a friend of Eisenhauer's. He became part of the investigation on January 30 2016. Her phone was kept as evidence and was submitted as evidence in this case. So far, her phone, Eisenhauer’s phone, and Eisenhauer’s wallet have been submitted as evidence.
Eisenhauer’s attorney’s question Hite about the details of the investigation. Hite was a lead investigator in this case. Tony Anderson, another of Eisenhauer’s attorney, brings up another name not yet mentioned in this case – a Cory Blake, from South Carolina, who Blacksburg investigators also questioned. Anderson’s questioning continues, asking about specific details of the Keepers investigation.
10:50 a.m.: Blacksburg Police Department Detective Desiree Twigger now takes the stand after a short break. Twigger took Eisenhauer’s phone during the questioning in January 2016. The phone was taken for safe keeping until they could get a warrant. Eisenhauer was arrested at 5:16 a.m. the morning of January 30, 2016. His wallet was taken from Eisenhauer after his arrest.
10:15 a.m.: Matthew Wilburn, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office retired member, takes the stand. He was asked to sit in the questioning room with Eisenhauer during the time of questioning. Pettitt plays video of the moment they were together. Wilburn was under the impression Eisenhauer was detained during this time period.
In the video, Eisenhauer talks about being honest with investigators, and again about the shovel bought at Walmart. He defends his purchase of the shovel. Eisenhauer says he’d like to have an attorney. He’s worried about having to go to jail, and having enough evidence to convict him. Wilburn says he’s likely to go to jail that night of questioning, in the video. Eisenhauer says he was the last person to see her and having a shovel doesn’t look good for him. He sighs continuously as he’s questioned.
The judge reminds the jury that statements made by the investigators should not be considered proof of evidence.
9:45 a.m.: Eisenhauer’s attorney starts questioning Witt on the stand, confirming there was no crime scene analysis information when he was questioning Witt in 2016.
The first laboratory analysis came back later that year. Pettitt objects, the judge asks the jury to leave, and Eisenhauer’s attorneys ask Special Agent Witt to leave to talk about the line of questioning.
Everyone is allowed back in the room for questioning and the trial begins again. The conversation goes again to the phone, and another phone that was discovered. One phone was found on the side of the road. Another phone was found in the Vet Med pond, beside a knife.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney again objects to the line of questioning from the defense attorneys.
Questioning continues again. Witt answers questions from the Commonwealth, saying he didn’t know where Lovell was at the time of questioning.
9:00 a.m.: The day started with the judge accepting an instruction for the jury stating they should not consider what FBI Special Agent Travis Witt said in the video as a fact.
Witt again took the stand as a witness. Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt introduced several more videos of the night David Eisenhauer was questioned at the Blacksburg Police Station. At one point an investigator asks him for his phone. He asks for a warrant, the investigators continues to ask for his phone and walks away.
Throughout the series of videos, Eisenhauer makes small talk with Witt. Eisenhauer says he’s a strong believer that the truth will set him free, and he has always been told to lawyer up. He asks Witt how long the questioning will take, because he has to get up early. He says he’s not familiar with what’s been uncovered in the missing person case, and he said he could help. At this point in the video Lovell was still considered missing. No body had been discovered.
Eisenhauer questions who was in and outside his dorm room when officers entered his room at Virginia Tech. He believed Lovell’s parents were there too. They were not present when he was asked to come to the Blacksburg Police Department. Eisenhauer shares he’s concerned about his future and being on the news after being associated as a person of interest. He asks for a pillow so he can take a nap, referencing a 16 mile run he had to take in the morning. Witt said he has to take this investigation seriously.
The video continues with Eisenhauer and Witt talk about the weather and the type of car Eisenhauer drives – a Lexus. Eisenhauer says he bought a shovel, a garden shovel, from Walmart, to help him dig out of snow. Witt then questions if he’s being honest. Eisenhauer says he knows he’s being honest, but things don’t look good. He says he doesn’t want to go to jail. Witt says, how do you think this will turn out for you? Eisenhauer says again to Witt in the video that the truth will set him free. The discussion leads back to the shovel in his car. He’s questioned when he bought the shovel, and says there was someone else with him when he bought the shovel “for snow purposes” – Natalie Keepers.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Pettitt, changes gears from the video, says there was a phone found in a paint can in a pond on campus. This is information we have not heard thus far in the case.
FEBRUARY 6, 2018
3:45 pm.: FBI Special Agent Travis Witt took the stand. He interviewed Eisenhauer January 29, 2016 after 11 p.m. that went into January 30. He said Eisenhauer was read his rights and signed a waiver. He waived rights and spoke to investigators. All of that was taped. The video shows investigators questioning Eisenhauer. “All the facts in this case point to your involvement,” Witt said to Eisenhauer in the video.
At that time the defense attorneys objected to the video being played only wanted the defendants statements used, not the questioners statements. The judge said the video is allowed. Once it started played, Eisenhauer’s lawyers again objected the video being played, saying the statements weren’t supported by evidence. The judge told the attorneys that the jury has to take the statements as they are which helps them up things in context. He overruled that objection. The video continued to play. Eisenhauer explains that he logged onto a website where he could talk to random strangers. He started speaking with someone with was 16, or 17, he told investigators.
“We talked for 30 minutes,” He says. She asked him to message him on Kik. In January the girl he was talking to said that everyone hated her, she asked him to hang out and he said no. She said they were dating, Eisenhauer said he freaked out.
The girl was later discovered to be Lovell. She messages him and said that she was depressed. Eisenhauer said to investigators on the video that he felt sorry for her. She asked to hang out, he agreed. “She gave me her address,” he said. “I get to her place, she was somewhere else, she looked like she was 11 and thought to myself I had to get out of here.” He told investigators he gave her a side hug, something he thought was more appropriate. She asked to help her run away. He told investigators “I said I’m gonna get something out of my car, I get in my car take off and leave.” He said she thought they were going to run away. He then explained he deleted everything so she couldn’t contact him.
3:15 p.m. Suzuki now answers questions from Tony Anderson, another attorney for Eisenhauer. She answers specific questions about the types of wounds Lovell had.
2:30 p.m.: Dr. Gayle Suzuki, Assistant Chief Medical Examiner in Roanoke, Va. takes the stand. She’s the third witness to give testimony today. She conducted an autopsy of Nicole Lovell’s body February 1st, 2016. Suzuki is an expert in this case. She says Lovell died from a stab wound to the neck. Other injuries were what she qualified as sharp force injuries and blunt force injuries. She noticed during the autopsy Lovell had scrapes and bruises on her head and a fracture in her neck. Suzuki said Lovell was alive at the time of her injuries. She testifies she had six cuts around her head and neck. Lovell also had eight stab wounds on the upper part of her chest.
Several pictures were shared of photos the medical examiner took of Lovell’s injuries. David looks at the photos with no emotion. Suzuki explains there were many potentially fatal injuries, the one that killed her was the injury to the neck.
A kit that collects DNA evidence from victims’ bodies done on Lovell’s body. The kit was given to the Blacksburg Police department. Pettitt asked if there were any signs of pregnancy. There was nothing found confirming pregnancy.
2:10 p.m. Kevin Hearth, former Virginia State Police special agent takes the stand. He was called to the location in Surry County, North Carolina where Lovell’s body was found. He saw the body off the route 89, not visible from the main road. Hearth spent time explaining exactly where she was discovered.
Eisenhauer’s attorneys have a question about pictures of the scene where Lovell’s body was found. The judge removed the jury to discuss the attorney’s concerns. His attorneys say the pictures are highly prejudicial. Hearth stayed at the scene until other law enforcement arrived. The body was then identified as Lovell.
1:55 p.m.: Nichole Lovell’s mother, Tammy Weeks, is the first witness on the stand for testimony. The commonwealth’s attorney began by asking her about Nicole’s health issues. She had a liver transplant and had to take medication for her conditions. Weeks is wearing blue, Nicole’s favorite color. She had been to the mall with friends and came home. She was typically playing dress up before going to bed. The next morning she was gone. Weeks explains each step she went through searching for Nicole. She says she checked her friends’ homes, made calls, and then called police reporting Nicole missing.
Commonwealth’s Attorney, Pettitt, shares a series of pictures of Nicole’s room. It shows a typical 13 year olds room. Weeks says Nicole had no history of running away, had no knowledge of her meeting with Eisenhauer. She noticed her minion blanket and cell phone gone. The next time her mother saw her was in her coffin she says. No questions from Eisenhauer’s attorneys.
1:25 p.m.: One of David Eisenhauer’s attorneys John E. Lichtenstein begins his opening statements. He is placing the blame of Lovell’s death on Natalie Keepers, using evidence of a palm print on the shaft of the shovel used in Lovell’s murder. Lichtenstein says the blood on the shovel is not Eisenhauer’s blood, but Keepers’ blood.
He says Keepers admitted to being at the scene of the murder. A stick was found with blood and hair on it, Lichtenstein says the blood was Lovell’s, the hair was Keepers’.
He describes the evidence that will be presented to the jury that accuses Keepers of the murder of Lovell.
A bloody bag was found in Keepers dorm room with bloody blankets and clothing. He says Keepers deleted an email account that was named after a demonic book. He describes more evidence that will ultimately committed the murder. Eisenhauer or Keepers?
Lichtenstein said Eisenhauer had no plans on what to do with in this murder, but was rather told what to do. He urges the jury to keep an open mind with the evidence.
1:15 p.m.: Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt begins starts opening statements. She gives a detailed synopsis of the day leading up to the events of Nicole Lovell’s death, much information we already have heard in court before. She explains Lovell met Eisenhauer online for months and met in person at least once.
Eisenhauer searched ways to hide bodies, how investigators identify bodies, and more. Eisenhauer and his friend Natalie Keepers planned Lovell’s death. They picked Lovell up at her apartment, went to Craig Creek Road, where she was stabbed 14 times. She was left in the woods to die. Several hours later, they picked up her body, and drove south, stopped in Wytheville to by cleaning supplies and continued their driving south. They got off interstate 77 and stopped just across the state line in North Carolina and dumped her body, and went back to Virginia Tech where they were students.
Pettitt explains Eisenhauer was the last person to see Lovell alive. He was interviewed by police and kept for questioning.
1:00 p.m.: Court begins. The Judge Robert Turk will select two alternates after closing arguments. All 14 jurors will be in the room during the entire trial. No witnesses are in the gallery during the trial.