CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (AP) — After listening to days of damaging testimony from prosecution witnesses, a former Virginia Tech student pleaded no contest Friday to killing a 13-year-old girl he met through social media.
David Eisenhauer, 20, entered his plea to all three charges against him in the stabbing death of Nicole Lovell: first-degree murder, abduction and concealing a body.
The plea came on the fourth day of testimony at his trial. Prosecutors told jurors Eisenhauer, then 18, killed Lovell, a 7th-grader from Blacksburg, because he was afraid his relationship with the underage girl would become known.
A plea of no contest means a defendant acknowledges there’s enough evidence to convict him, but doesn’t admit he committed the crime. The plea has the same effect as a guilty plea. Sentencing is scheduled for May. The judge told Eisenhauer he faces up to life, plus 15 years.
Lovell’s mother, Tammy Weeks, hugged prosecutor Mary Pettitt after the proceedings.
“I was blessed to be Nicole’s mother, to be her friend for 13 years,” Weeks later told reporters as she choked back tears. “We fought every fight together… She was a great and beautiful girl.”
During opening statements, Eisenhauer’s lawyer attempted to shift the blame to his alleged accomplice, Natalie Keepers, 21, who has been charged as an accessory before the fact and is scheduled to go on trial in September.
Keepers told police she and Eisenhauer talked about various ways to kill the girl and admitted she later helped dump her body in North Carolina after Eisenhauer stabbed her. She insisted that she wasn’t present for the actual killing, but Eisenhauer’s lawyers suggested she was there and could have been the one who killed Lovell.
Pettitt told jurors that Nicole and Eisenhauer had been communicating through social media for months and had met at least once in person before Nicole climbed out her bedroom window for a “secret date” with him just after midnight on Jan. 27, 2016.
Prosecutors said Eisenhauer’s…