CHRISTIANSBURG — Arguments over “raw data” behind text messages and other electronic content will delay David Edmond Eisenhauer’s trial in the killing of 13-year-old Nicole Lovell, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Eisenhauer, a former Virginia Tech Student, was scheduled to begin a jury trial on Nov. 2 on charges of first-degree murder, abduction and concealing a body. But at a short motions hearing Wednesday in Montgomery County Circuit Court, Judge Robert Turk accepted defense attorney’s request for more time to prepare.
Eisenhauer, 20, of Columbia, Md., is accused of luring Lovell from her bedroom on the night of Jan. 27, 2016. According to the prosecution, Eisenhauer stabbed Lovell to death and hid the body with help from another Tech student, Natalie Marie Keepers, 20, of Laurel, Md. Keepers is accused of helping to plan the murder as well.
Keepers is scheduled to begin a jury trial on Feb. 5 on charges of being an accessory before the fact to first-degree murder and with concealing a body.
On Wednesday, John Lichtenstein of Roanoke, one of five attorneys defending Eisenhauer, said that prosecutors have not handed over all the raw data from at least 17 phones, computers and other electronic devices that are involved in the case. He said that forensic experts will need to pore over the data to produce evidence that could help Eisenhauer.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt objected, saying the defense already had the raw data. If there were questions, they should have been raised during the eight months that have elapsed since Eisenhauer’s trial was scheduled, she said.
Turk said he would use a Nov. 6 hearing — a date scheduled to be part of Eisenhauer’s jury trial — to decide questions about raw data and defense motions to suppress incriminating statements that Eisenhauer made to investigators. Also on Nov. 6, Turk said, he will set a new trial date for Eisenhauer.
Turk said that while he was granting the delay, the second requested by the defense, he would not agree to a third continuance unless the prosecution asked for it.
Eisenhauer’s attorneys last week filed a motion asking Turk to throw out incriminating statements that Eisenhauer made to investigators, saying that he was the subject of an improper arrest, and that investigators wrongly questioned him for hours after he said he wanted to stop and call an attorney.
Keepers’ attorneys have also filed a new motion to suppress her confession. In March, Turk ruled that investigators erred in not reading Keepers her Miranda rights earlier in their questioning and said that a portion of her interrogation could not be used as evidence.
As of Wednesday afternoon, no hearing has been scheduled to consider Keepers’ new motion ahead of her trial.