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DA: Warrants in Eve Carson's death should remain sealed

Posted April 28, 2008
Updated April 29, 2008

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— Search warrants pertaining to Eve Carson's homicide should stay sealed, Orange County's district attorney argued Monday, because there is specific information that can identify two informants who helped investigators arrest two suspects in the case.

"The informants in this case will be in physical danger if that information is made public," Woodall said during a hearing on a motion by The Durham Herald-Sun to release six search warrants related to the case.

Woodall wants to wait for at least 60 more days before making the information public while police conduct more interviews.

"The investigation is less than two months old," he said. "This investigation will continue for sometime."

Defense attorneys for Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., 17, and Demario James Atwater, 21, also want them sealed to ensure the right to a fair trial, given the high-profile nature of the case – Carson, 22, was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's student body president.

But John Bussian, an attorney for the Herald-Sun, argued that the news media has a First Amendment right to know what is in the documents and that the state must be able to justify why the documents are sealed.

"If we can't see the records, and we can't see what the government is offering as reasons for sealing, then how in the world is the public and the press going to have confidence in the exercise of the search and seizure power," Bussian said.

Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour is expected to rule on the motion Tuesday.

The Durham newspaper filed the motion to unseal the warrants on April 14. Among them are a March 17 warrant for Lovette's mother's home at 1213 Shepherd St. in Durham and another for an apartment at 2507 S. Roxboro St.

Police conducted other unspecified searches five days earlier.

Court orders to seal the documents say the public release of information in them "would be detrimental" to the ongoing investigation.

But the Herald-Sun's attorneys asked Monday why the information couldn't be redacted, but Woodall said the information, alone, could reveal the informants' identities.

Lovette and Atwater were arrested and charged with first-degree murder about a week after Carson's was shot to death in the early-morning hours of March 5. Police found her body about a half-mile from the UNC campus while responding to reports of gunfire.

A hearing is scheduled for May 5 to determine whether to pursue the death penalty against Atwater.

Lovette cannot be executed because of a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits executing anyone who was under 18 at the time of a crime.

51 Comments

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  • TheWayISeeIt Apr 29, 2008

    Finally, someone with some sense. Keep the records sealed so these guys can be put away ASAP.

  • Raptor06 Apr 29, 2008

    "On a serious note - nothing should be "secret" - That gives people like Sharpton and Jackson ammunition"

    TheAdmiral - why are Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson involved in this? I've never heard their names associated with this murder. And I think the black community would be very upset if they came down for this situation. It appears Eve Carson represented a lot of people down here who are sick and tired of these murders ocurring in our community.

  • Citizen7265 Apr 29, 2008

    For all those who believe the warrants should be opened, I want you to think about the fact that the next time it could be your loved on that is the victim. How will you feel when no one will come forward to identify the criminals because zealots with the "right to know" will allow them to be identified. Your tune will likely change when it is your spouse, child, or other loved on lying in the street. The informants who were willing to step up and turn the low-lifes in have a right to be protected.

  • oldschooltarheel Apr 29, 2008

    BTW - Mayor bell says Durham doesn't have a "significant" crime problem.... I'd laugh if it weren't so tragic. Hope plenty of bakeesh pays for statements like that because otherwise it is sheer idiocy.

  • oldschooltarheel Apr 29, 2008

    Media will find out at trial - just like everyone else. Media's first Amendment rights do not supercede the criminal justice system - as lame as it can be. Unsealing that information could get informants killed before trial. Perhaps this is just the outcome someone might be jockeying for, no?

  • dplowman Apr 29, 2008

    Well the cops said it was not gang related so why cant we unseal them? Not gang related my big old b---.
    The blind eye of the law to gangs is what gives them their power

  • Timetogo Apr 29, 2008

    "the news media has a First Amendment right to know what is in the documents"... that's right... EVEN IF IT GETS SOMEONE KILLED!! (are breeding stupidity on purpose??)

  • dianadarling Apr 29, 2008

    conservative - I agree with you. If you don't have brain development until 25 maybe we shouldn't allow anybody to have children of their own until then.

  • chivegas Apr 29, 2008

    Surprise! The media (I'm not talking about WRAL, so let it through Moderator K) is willing to put lives at risk to cover a weak, at best, story. No one (public) really cares what's in those warrants anyway.

  • GWALLY Apr 29, 2008

    They should be unsealed the moment these two killers have there caskets sealed......oh wait a minute....one can't be put to death, and the other will appeal for 25 or 30 years........I change my mind....unseal them NOW!!!

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