Keepers Trial 091918 - Defense Attorneys and Keepers

Defense attorneys (from LEFT to RIGHT) John Robertson and Kris Olin look at printouts of text messages involving their client Natalie Keepers (RIGHT) who is accused of being an accessory before the fact in the January 2016 murder of Nicole Lovell, Christiansburg, Virginia, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. 

Wednesday marked the third day of Natalie Keepers’ trial. Keepers is a former Virginia Tech student and is charged with being an accessory before the fact in connection to the murder of 13-year-old Nicole Lovell.

Day three began with a testimony from Michael Via, an officer from the Blacksburg Police Department. Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt questioned Via about a series of photos from Craig Creek Road where Lovell was murdered and presented the photos to the jury.

The prosecution then called detective Mike Czernicki from the Blacksburg Police Department to the stand as its second witness of the day.

Czernicki testified that he was assigned to Craig Creek Road and spent one and a half hours investigating the scene and searching for evidence after Eisenhauer was arrested on Jan. 30, 2016. At the scene, he discovered footprints on the snow that indicated that two people entered the area. In addition, Czernicki discovered blood stains on the ground.

Czernicki then testified that he also searched Eisenhauer’s vehicle after it was seized by the police. In the vehicle, Czernicki found clean wipes, bleach and a shovel, which was later presented to the jury as evidence. During the Eisenhauer trial, it was revealed that a bloody palm print, which belongs to Keepers, was found on the shovel. Dry blood stains were also discovered in many different spots in the vehicle.

The commonwealth’s third witness of the day was detective Deziree Twigger, with the Blacksburg Police Department. During Twigger’s testimony, the prosecutor showed a picture taken from security footage from Walmart in Christiansburg. The still indicated that Keepers purchased the shovel that was presented as evidence during Czernicki’s testimony with Eisenhauer. Keepers’ boots were also presented to the jury as evidence.

The commonwealth then called Shawn Caudell, a Virginia State Police officer, to the stand. Just when Pettitt was getting ready to present evidence found in Keepers’ dorm room, the defense team objected and expressed that they would like to discuss the evidence without the presence of the jury.

The defense argued that the evidence found in Keepers’ dorm room, which includes a blue gym bag and Lovell’s blanket, was used in the concealing dead body charge, and should not be used in this trial. The defense also objected to the boots that were presented as evidence earlier in the trial with the same reason.

The commonwealth argued that these pieces of evidence are used to corroborate with Eisenhauer’s and Keepers’ statements. Judge Robert Turk then questioned the relationship between Keepers’ boots and her intent before the fact.

"Her behavior after the fact shows her intention before the fact," Pettitt said in response.

Turk then overruled the objection.

Caudell testified that he found dry blood stains on the blue gym bag and blanket, which were both discovered in a gray suitcase in Keepers’ dorm room.

Nicole Harold, a forensic science supervisor at the Virginia Department of Forensic Science’s Western District Lab in Roanoke, was then called to the stand. Harold testified that the blood stains found on the gym bag, blanket and Keepers’ boots all belong to Lovell.

Twigger was later called to the stand again. Wednesday’s trial ended with her reading text messages taken from Keepers’ and Eisenhauer’s phones. The messages clearly indicate that they were discussing Lovell’s murder.

The trial will resume Wednesday at 9 a.m. in the Montgomery County Circuit Courthouse.

The Collegiate Times will continue to post updated articles at the end of each day of the trial.

News Editor

News editor for the Collegiate Times

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