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Feds: Second UNC murder suspect could still be charged

Posted March 16, 2010

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— Federal prosecutors say proper procedure was followed in deciding whether to seek the death penalty for a man charged in connection with the slaying of UNC's former student body president.

In October, attorneys for Demario James Atwater filed a motion asking a U.S. District Court judge to strike the death penalty in his case, which is scheduled to go to trial May 3.

His attorneys claim the Department of Justice violated its internal procedures in making its decision to seek the death penalty.

But prosecutors say the procedures in place "ensure that charging of capital cases in federal court is uniformly accomplished throughout the United States."

Atwater faces a number of federal charges, including kidnapping and carjacking resulting in the March 5, 2008, shooting death of Eve Marie Carson.

He also faces the death penalty on state charges in the case, which include first-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery, felonious larceny and felonious possession of stolen goods.

Authorities say Atwater and Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., kidnapped Carson, forced her to withdraw money from ATMs, shot her five times, including once to the head, and left her on a residential street near the UNC campus.

Lovette also faces several state charges, including first-degree murder, but he does not face federal charges.

Atwater's attorneys have also claimed that the federal government, in choosing not to charge Lovette is "acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner" in seeking the death penalty in his case.

Federal prosecutors call the concerns "misguided" and contend that Lovette is still a "viable defendant for federal prosecution." The government has until March 4, 2013, to charge him.

"The fact that he is not charged presently does not have any bearing upon whether he might be charged on a later date," the federal response says.

Unlike Atwater, Lovette is ineligible for the death penalty under a Supreme Court ruling that prohibits the execution of individuals under 18 years old at the time of a capital crime.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • rcrdngcountry Mar 17, 2010

    atwater, does the thought of death scare you? wonder if it scared this young lady you put a gun to, and pulled the trigger,
    many times. do you ask her? let me tell you the truth, i'm sick
    of you and your friend, and every one like you. its time people
    put a stop to people that kill for fun. its time we show cold
    blooded killers, if they kill they will be punished to the max
    so unless your are ready to die also, don"t go around and kill
    people. NORTH CAROLINA we need to start protecting our citizens.

  • lilmama1827511 Mar 17, 2010

    The Victims Parents do not even want them to charge with death penalty, they said its against there beliefs.

  • IveGotMyOpinion Mar 17, 2010

    If they are found guilty of these crimes, the death penalty is justified.

  • raleigh88888 Mar 17, 2010

    I hope I am not pointing out the obvious to the two original posters, but the system is in place to protect the innocent. The only way to accomplish that is by uniformly providing rights to all individuals charged with a crime. While I have no doubt that these two are guilty, these two are not being treated any differently than others accused of a crime. Be thankful for the rights we have in this country rather than dismissing them so quickly - there may be a time when you are charged with a crime and will be thankful they exist.

  • sssh.. whisper Mar 17, 2010

    I would have to agree.. I, too, am tired of murders and child predators receiving nothing! I strongly believe that if it is certain, and without a doubt that a person has murdered another than that person should just be wiped off the map within a decent amount of time of the crime.. not years down the road!!! I also think that the younger of these 2 should also receive the death penalty- he killed not just one person but 2!! He's old enough to know right from wrong and he still just wrong TWICE

  • w1will Mar 17, 2010

    You aren't the only one, udoo. Both of these defendants should already be 6 feet under by now. This isn't justice. I beleive in due process, but our system is broken. Right now these two are just two more mouths to feed in the DOC. We should turn them over to the victim's family and let them decide the punishment. I think a slow and painful death is in order. Im sick of murderers and child predators having "rights".

  • udoowutchyalike Mar 17, 2010

    This guy took the life of another human being, I don't care if he thinks his rights as a criminal were violated, he should face the same end result as his victim. I'm also sick and tired of hearing about people getting off or less punishment because of a stupid technicality.