Woman charged in teen’s death says she, too, was bullied — (The Canton Repository)

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The Canton Repository

By Tom Foreman Jr. And Ben Nuckols, The Associated Press

Posted Feb. 5, 2016 at 12:01 AM

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) ” Natalie Keepers told a judge that she was bullied ” just like the 13-year-old girl she is accused of plotting to kill.

This undated photo provided by Tammy Weeks shows her daughter, Nicole Lovell, posing when she was 10 in Blacksburg, Va. The 13-year-old girl was found dead just across the state line in Surry County, N.C., and two Virginia Tech students are charged in the case. (Tammy Weeks via AP)

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) ” Natalie Keepers told a judge that she was bullied ” just like the 13-year-old girl she is accused of plotting to kill.

And like seventh-grader Nicole Lovell, the 19-year-old Virginia Tech student had endured health challenges, though Keepers’ were of the emotional variety: suicidal thoughts, cutting herself, stress and anxiety that required medication.

The similarities emerged in a Blacksburg courtroom Thursday as Keepers and her lawyer argued that she should be released on bail while she awaits trial for allegedly helping plan Lovell’s slaying and then improperly dumping her body just across the state line in North Carolina, two hours south of Virginia Tech’s campus, where she was a student. Bond was denied.

Keepers’ classmate, 18-year-old David Eisenhauer, is charged with kidnapping and killing Lovell, who survived a liver transplant and other health scares only to have her life ended after apparently climbing out her bedroom window last week. Eisenhauer also is being held without bond.

In court, Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt described how authorities believe Eisenhauer and Keepers planned Lovell’s stabbing death but left key aspects of the crime a mystery. She did not suggest a possible motive nor describe the killing itself.

But the prosecutor said messages on the girl’s phone led to the suspects and accused the college students of deciding together in a fast-food restaurant that Eisenhauer would cut her throat.

Defense lawyers argued that Keepers’ mental health could unravel behind bars.

“We understand the allegations are disturbing and serious,” attorney Kristopher Olin said. “But they are just allegations.”

Keepers told the judge that she began cutting her body and had considered suicide “a few times” after being bullied in school five years ago. She said she’s been in therapy and taking Prozac since then.

She’s also allergic to the gluten in jail food, Olin added.

Judge Robert Viars Jr. decided Keepers should remain behind bars after Pettitt said she “is in the same position as the person who carried out the murder.”

The prosecutor said Eisenhauer initially denied his involvement when police found his messages on Nicole’s phone, but eventually he said he drove to the girl’s home, watched her climb out her window and greeted her with a “side hug” before they drove off to pick up Keepers.

Keepers insists she was not present at the killing itself but she went along for the ride, Pettitt said. And once Nicole was dead, Keepers helped load her body into Eisenhauer’s Lexus, the prosecutor added.

Pettitt said Keepers revealed the plot after officers tracked her down but that she first tried to warn Eisenhauer, sending him a one-word text message reading “Police.”

Nicole’s parents, David Lovell and Tammy Weeks, attended the bail hearing but made no comments before leaving for their daughter’s private funeral, where several hundred mourners paid their respects.