David Eisenhauer, a former Virginia Tech student, pleaded no contest in the 2016 killing of 13-year-old Nicole Lovell. He entered a plea to all three charges against him in the slaying of the girl he met online: first-degree murder, abduction, and concealing a dead body.
David Eisenhauer, 20, a former Virginia Tech student, pleaded no contest on Friday, in Montgomery County Circuit Court, for the 2016 killing of 13-year-old Nicole Lovell. He entered a plea to all three charges against him in the slaying of the girl he met online: first-degree murder, abduction, and concealing a dead body.
A plea of no contest means Eisenhauer 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.
Judge Robert Turk asked Eisenhauer if he understood that he faces a maximum sentence of life plus 15 years. Eisenhauer answered “yes.”
Sentencing is scheduled for May 22 and May 23, but the date could be moved. Because Eisenhauer pleaded no contest, a judge, not a jury, will make his sentence.
Eisenhauer’s plea on Friday, which came unexpectedly on the fourth day of testimony, brings to an end a trial that already included many days of testimony about the abduction and horrific stabbing death of Lovell.
At the time of time of the killing, and while searches were underway for Lovell, Eisenhauer told FBI agents that he met her on an anonymous online chatroom before they started messaging.
He maintained that he thought Lovell was 16 or 17. But when he finally met her on January 27, he saw, “someone who is maybe 11-years-old climb out of a window,” and thought, “uh uh not for me,” and left without her.
Prosecutors thought otherwise. During Tuesday’s opening statements, Montgomery County, Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt told jurors in opening statements on Tuesday that Eisenhauer, then 18, killed Lovell, a seventh grader from Blackburg, because he was afraid she would tell someone about his relationship with an underage girl.
According to prosecutors, Lovell and Eisenhauer had been chatting through social media for months and had met at least once before the seventh grader climbed out her bedroom window for a “secret date” after midnight on January 27, 2016.
Instead of going on a secret date, Eisenhauer took Lovell into the woods and stabbed her 14 times in the chest and throat, dumping her body across the border, in North Carolina.
Pettitt said DNA was found under Lovell’s fingernails and her blood was found in the trunk of his car. On top of that, Eisenhauer did online searches on topics such as “knock out drugs,” “How long does it take to burn a body,” and “How does the tv serial killer Dexter get rid of bodies.”
The defense team simply tried to blame the murders on Natalie Keepers, who was a friend and classmate of Eisenhauer’s at Virginia Tech. Eisemhauer’s team of lawyers said Keepers already admitted to police her involvement in the murders, save for the “sole exception” of being at the scene.
John Lichtenstein, Eisenhauer’s defense attorney, said Keepers’ participation in the crime raises the question: “Who actually committed this murder?”
Keepers has been charged with accessory to murder before the fact and concealing a dead body. She is scheduled to go on trial in September.