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Former Virginia Tech student goes on trial for allegedly stabbing 13-year-old girl to death

Blacksburg Police Department(BLACKSBURG, Va.) -- A trial is underway for a former Virginia Tech student who is accused of stabbing a 13-year-old girl to death after they allegedly connected over an instant messaging app.

David Eisenhauer was an 18-year-old freshman when he allegedly killed 13-year-old Nicole Lovell. Prosecutors said she was stabbed 14 times.

Nicole, of Blacksburg, Virginia, where Virginia Tech is located, went missing in January 2016 after she kissed her mother goodnight and climbed out of her window to meet the 18-year-old, Montgomery County Commonwealth's Attorney Mary Pettitt said in her opening statement today. Investigators said the seventh-grader had been secretly messaging with Eisenhauer on the app Kik.

Nicole's body was found days later in Surry County, North Carolina, near the Virginia border, police said. Her body was stripped naked and dumped 4 miles from Eisenhauer's grandparent's home, Pettitt said.

Nicole's cause of death was a stab wound to the neck, medical examiner Dr. Gayle Suzuki said today as she testified for the prosecution, ABC affiliate WSET-TV reported.

Other injuries included bruises on the inside of her scalp, a stab wound to her ears and several stab wounds on the upper part of the chest, Suzuki said, according to WSET-TV.

Nicole also suffered a fracture of the cervical spine and Suzuki said the teen's injuries were consistent with being alive at the time her vertebrae was severed, WSET-TV reported.

Eisenhauer, now 20, is charged with first-degree murder, abduction and concealing a dead body. He has pleaded not guilty.

Pettitt said Eisenhauer had searched online for how long it takes to burn a body and how bodies were disposed of in the TV show "Dexter."

In an interview with police, he referred to himself as the last person to see Nicole alive, Pettitt said.

But the defense is pointing the blame at another former Virginia Tech student, Natalie Keepers, who prosecutors say participated in dumping Nicole's body.

Defense attorney John Lichenstein said Keepers bragged about planning Nicole's death and said all Eisenhauer wanted to do was clear Nicole's phone, according to WSET-TV.

The defense said Keepers' palm print on a shovel will point to her involvement in the planning. A bloody blanket was found in Keepers' dorm room and Nicole's phone charger was found in Keepers' desk, the defense added.

Nicole was not pregnant, the medical examiner testified, according to WSET-TV.

Keepers, 21, who told authorities she was not there when Nicole was killed, has been charged with accessory before the fact and concealing a dead body, the AP said. Keepers is set to go on trial in September.

WSET-TV reported that Keepers' attorney, Kris Olin, declined to comment on opening arguments in Eisenhauer's case.

Nicole's mother, Tammy Weeks, testified for the prosecution today, saying when she realized her daughter wasn't in her room, she called Nicole's friends, went to neighbors' houses, then called the police.

The next time she saw her daughter, Weeks said, it was “in the coffin.”

Nicole had a passion for pandas, music and dancing, and dreamed of being on "American Idol" someday, her mother said at a 2016 news conference.

But she had many health problems in her short life. As a baby, Nicole was diagnosed with a rare tumor in her liver, Weeks said, noting that when Nicole was 10 months old, she received a liver transplant. At the age of 4, Nicole was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and developed acute respiratory distress syndrome, her mother said. Nicole was in a coma for six months and developed MRSA, Weeks said.

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