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Probation revoked for UNC murder suspect

Posted May 1, 2008

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— A Superior Court judge Thursday reinstated the sentences of a Durham man who was on probation when he was charged in the shooting death of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's student body president.

Through his attorney, Rudy Renfer, Demario James Atwater admitted Thursday to violating his probation stemming from a Feb. 16, 2005, conviction for felony breaking and entering and larceny.

He was on 36 months' probation for that conviction when he was convicted in Granville County on June 28, 2007, for possession of a firearm by a felon.

Atwater also entered an Alford plea to charges that he violated his probation in Granville County by not following through on requirements to perform community service and pay court costs.

The 21-year-old, who shed tears as he sat in court, said little during the hearing, although he did whisper to his attorney at times.

Judge Ripley Rand activated Atwater's two prior suspended sentences. That puts him in prison for 20 to 25 months, serving two consecutive sentences – up to 10 months for the Wake County conviction and up to 15 months for the Granville County conviction. He must also pay $337.50 in attorney's fees.

Renfer blamed the probation system for letting Atwater "fall of the face of the probation map."

He said Wake County probation officers failed to notify Atwater when his case was reassigned and that when he did report, they told him to return later.

Atwater told Rand that during his sentencing in Granville County, the reason he told the judge he was not on probation was that he had not heard from Wake County probation officers in more than a year.

"If the probation office, the probation department, does not do a better job of informing them and keeping people on probation informed of their responsibilities, they can't fulfill those responsibilities," Renfer said.

An internal probe into Atwater's case found as many as 10 staff touched Atwater's case file and did not address red flags. Probation officers also lost contact with him for more than a year.

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

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  • Dr. Dataclerk May 2, 2008

    The problem with the family is they could not do nothing with him. Actually, they lost him several years ago. Now they know where he is at (prison). Probably the best place for him and his family. Trust me, they are sleeping well now. He not bullying them.

  • Dr. Dataclerk May 2, 2008

    Excuses - excuses excuses. He is getting what he deserves. He knew right from wrong. He made the choice and now he will have to live with that choice. Of course the courts are not through with him. After the probation issue, he will return for Carson's murder. I know he wish he could turn back the time and listen to the person that was probably trying to help him. Too late, its prison time. May you get your just in prison.

  • NCMOMof3 May 2, 2008

    so let me get this straight. His defense for killing someone is because no one told him where to be, no one told him where to report, no one told him that his probation was still in effect, then this gives him the right to kill someone? It sounds like his lawyer is blaming others for not holding this felons hand and telling him every step of the way what was expected of him and because he was not told "now, no no, you are on probation right now, you can't go and kill someone" he thought it was ok. Bull

  • oldschooltarheel May 2, 2008

    Very enlightening to now know just what it takes to get parole revoked in NC. I always wondered why the drunk who hit me wasn't pursued with even a bench warrant issuance when he failed to show for even 1 parole meeting. Guess I'll watch for the stinker - when he kills some folks may be then he'll get a warrant issued LOL. I'll be watching & waiting to join with survivors for a nice civil suit against those who ignored their duties...

  • Mom of two May 2, 2008

    This should have been done along time ago.

  • copforlife May 2, 2008

    Can anyone tell me how revoking his probation is going to hurt him???????????????????
    WOW, his probation is revoked.....woopee!!!!

  • nonemeant May 2, 2008

    Probation Revoked for UNC murder suspect. Too much, too little, too late.

  • rargos May 2, 2008

    They should have revoked his probation when he (a convicted felon) was caught with a firearm. It drives me crazy to hear people talking about how this country needs to ban guns and then see convicted felons let off the hook when they're caught with a gun. If we would actually enforce the existing gun laws, this guy would have been off the streets and Eve would still be alive.

  • NE Raleigh May 1, 2008

    They should revolk his life.

  • mac240 May 1, 2008

    Where are this knucklehead’s parent(s)? He was living somewhere…someone knew his activities. He didn’t have a job or go to school and I don’t think he was able to survive just by committing crimes. I hope someone in his immediate family can’t sleep at night.

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