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UNC Murder Suspect in Court on Probation Violation

Posted March 31, 2008

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— One of the two men accused of killing UNC Student Body President Eve Carson waived his probable cause hearing in connection with a probation violation that ultimately prompted state correction officials to order an internal investigation into the matter.

Six deputies flanked Demario James Atwater, 21, of Durham, as he entered a Wake County courtroom Monday. The violation stems from a February 2005 felony breaking-and-entering conviction.

Superior Court Judge Carl Fox continued the case until May 1 and assigned Raleigh attorney Rudy Renfer, who sometimes handles cases for the public defender's officer, to represent Atwater.

Atwater had been in court two days before Carson's March 5 shooting death, but the hearing was postponed following a paperwork mix-up.

It was one of several problems that contributed to Atwater being overlooked by the state's probation system.

"This guy should have been handled by us," said Robert L. Guy, director of the Department of Correction's Division of Community Corrections.

Atwater's former probation officer has been placed on desk duty and a new office has been assigned to the case. Guy has also ordered an internal investigation into how the case was handled.

Results from that probe could be available sometime this week.

In February 2005, a judge sentenced Atwater to three years' probation, including nine months of intensive probation that required him to be in contact with a probation officer five times a week, at least once in person.

He pleaded guilty to felony possession of a firearm in Granville County in June 2007, but arrest warrants weren't issued for him in Wake County until November 2007. His probation officer arrested him on Feb. 20, 2008, and he was released on a $10,000 secured bond.

He was in court March 3, but was allowed to leave because his court file had been sent to the wrong courtroom.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby has said the investigation is necessary, although it is impossible to say whether earlier intervention could have prevented Carson's death or any of Atwater's other alleged acts.

"I don't know if it would have prevented his criminal activity or not, but someone might have detected it sooner," Willoughby said.

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  • BottomLine Mar 31, 2008

    Too little too late. The supervisors need to be FIRED ASAP and held accountable. Wait, government employees ... ever seen them work overtime ? Pick any gov't office and the next time you have an appointment - arrive 30 mins early ... take it all in.

  • fedupwithitall Mar 31, 2008

    hmm..anybody think this guy is going to walk free today due to his paperwork being misplaced?

  • lili64 Mar 31, 2008

    I don't know where you are getting your info Sean, but a probation violation DOES NOT act as an arrest warrant. A warrant is done for probation violation unless they are cited. The generally public thinks that if someone is charged with a crime while on probation, they have violated. This is simple not true. For example if a person gets charged with Assault on a Female and the female gets to court, the two have made up and she wishes to have the charges dismissed and not prosecute. If is his charged with probation violation at the
    time he was served with the assault charge, then you have falsely arrest someone on probation violation if the DA does dismiss the charges. It becomes a violation when convicted of the crime.

    The general public has the conception that probation and parole is the same. It is totally separate. There is a vast difference.

  • seankelly15 Mar 31, 2008

    DougH - I am not sure where you are getting your information, but a public defender would be appointed on the spot and the case would have proceeded. This is not a criminal trial; there is no preparation. There are terms of probation and if the terms are not met, you can be sent to jail. A probation violation can act as an arrest warrant and yes, you can be held.

  • LoveOneAnotherAsChristTaught Mar 31, 2008

    My question is do we assess the system solely based on the mistakes, or do we also look at how many times it worked well? It's easy to take the position that we should just make the judicial system tougher, harder, and publicize every decision by every judge, magistrate, etc. But, tell me exactly how this will improve things? The judicial system in Saudi Arabia is one of the toughest in the world...and how do you think that is working? Does that help or hurt human rights? And what about Lady Justice, blindfolded so as to be impartial? Allowing the general public to judge the efficacy of judges and magistrates on a daily basis is not possible or desireable. Voting is the public's opportunity to show their support or disdain..

  • FloydTurbo Mar 31, 2008

    History says there will be a lot of yadda yadda about this for a month or so ..... then the general public will get distracted by the next provocative cause celebe and everything will return to a pre-Eve "normal" within "the system".

    The career bureaucrats and paper pushers count on that .... for good reason. .... sigh, sob, sniff.

  • b4self Mar 31, 2008

    Loveoneanother.It's not just looking for someone else to blame and it's not just these 2 cases. The problem is it happens every day , and will not stop until we get these Judges out of office and this PO should never have been hired in the first place. If both these 2 criminals had of pulled real time in a REAL prision on their first offence ,then we may not have reading about these 2 deaths. We do need this Judges name so we can vote him and others like him out of office.

  • DowntownGirl Mar 31, 2008

    It would be interesting to know where he got the money for the bond.

  • oldschooltarheel Mar 31, 2008

    Listing the judges'/magistrates' decisions on a daily basis with weekly & monthly tallies would be a very helpful public service. The the voting public could see the decisions made about bonds, parole & sentencing. This information should be made public as a matter of course - and listed prominently; annual tallies published before elections so some sense can be made of these judicial "decisions".

  • unchick Mar 31, 2008

    I agree totally ridgill

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