THERE, Va. – The parents of a slain 13-year-old girl described their deep sorrow on Tuesday, while the teachers of the former Virginia Tech student convicted for the stabbing of her death, described him as a quiet person, eager for acceptance.
The testimony came during a sentencing hearing for David Eisenhauer, an 18-year-old freshman engineering student at Virginia Tech when he developed a relationship with Nicole Lovell, a 7-year-old of Blacksburg.
In February, after days of damaging testimony at his trial, Eisenhauer pleaded no contest to first-degree murder, kidnapping and the hiding of a body in Lovell’s 2016 death. He faces a sentence of life plus 15 years.
As his sentencing hearing began Tuesday, Lovell parents described the effect of her death has had on them.
Her father, David Lovell, said he is already diagnosed with severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder since the death of his daughter.
“There is nothing that will happen in this courtroom that will be fixed,” he said.
Lovell’s mother, Tami Weeks-Dowdy, said she sees a grief counselor, and still has trouble sleeping. She said that she celebrated what would have been her daughter’s 16th birthday last month at her grave.
Eisenhauer the advocates of the so-called two teachers and an old classmate of his from Yakima, Washington, where he lived before moving to Columbia, Maryland, with his family.
Both the teachers of the River Christian School said that he was a smart and friendly student, but seemed to have trouble following social cues.
Kathryn Anne Stoothoff, who taught Eisenhauer in the 10th grade English classes and a bible class, he said that he was bright, but “that is needed are clear rules to be successful.” She said that he would “follow someone off a cliff if she convinced him it was the right thing to do.”
During his trial, prosecutor Mary Pettitt told the jury that Eisenhauer killed Lovell, because he feared that his relationship with her would be exposed. Pettitt said that they had communicated online for months, then met in person.
Natalie Keepers, who prosecutors say was Eisenhauer’s accomplice, told the police Eisenhauer was afraid that the then-13-year-old Lovell may be pregnant. Keepers said Eisenhauer told her he had sex with Lovell on a party, but couldn’t remember because he blacked out and later woke up in a ditch.
Keepers is scheduled to stand trial in September on charges of an accessory to the fact and hide the body.
Lovell’s body was found just over the border in North Carolina. A medical examiner testified that she had 14 stab wounds, including a fatal wound to her neck.