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NORTH CAROLINA

Man guilty in murder of UNC student leader

HILLSBOROUGH — A Durham man was convicted Tuesday and sentenced to life without parole in the slaying of a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student body president.

The jury on Tuesday found Laurence Lovette Jr. guilty of first-degree murder in the March 2008 slaying of Eve Carson. He was also convicted of first-degree kidnapping and robbery. He showed no emotion as the verdict was read.

Lovette, 20, was not eligible for the death penalty because he was a minor when the crime was committed.

For the kidnapping and robbery charges, Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour tacked on an additional 20 years to the end of Lovette’s life sentence.

Prosecutors say Lovette, who was 17 at the time, had driven in his mother’s car to nearby Chapel Hill with another man, Demario Atwater, to go find someone to rob.

In the early-morning darkness, they happened upon Miss Carson, a busy Morehead scholar and much-liked student leader from Athens, Ga., who friends said regularly stayed up all night studying. The pair shot her five times, prosecutors said, for her ATM card and because she had seen their faces.

Atwater pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to two life prison terms.

NEW YORK

Earth-size planets spotted around distant star

NEW YORK — Scientists have found two Earth-sized planets orbiting a star outside the solar system, an encouraging sign for prospects of finding life elsewhere.

The discovery shows that such planets exist and that they can be detected by the Kepler spacecraft, said Francois Fressin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. They’re the smallest planets found so far that orbit a star resembling our sun.

Scientists are seeking Earth-sized planets as potential homes for extraterrestrial life, said Mr. Fressin, who reports the new findings in a paper published online Tuesday by the journal Nature. One planet’s diameter is only 3 percent larger than Earth’s, while the other’s diameter is about nine-tenths that of Earth. They appear to be rocky, like our planet.

But they are too hot to contain life as we know it, with calculated temperatures of about 1,400 degrees and 800 degrees Fahrenheit, he said.

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