Local News

DA will seek death penalty in UNC murder case

Posted August 11, 2008

— Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said Monday he will seek the death penalty against one of two men charged in the shooting death of last year's student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Demario James Atwater, 22, was arrested March 12 and charged with first-degree murder in the March 5 shooting death of Eve Marie Carson, 22, a senior from Athens, Ga.

Police found her body on a residential street about a half-mile from the UNC campus in the early morning hours while responding to reports of gunshots.

"This is the toughest decision any prosecutor has to make," Woodall said, adding that his decision was not a quick one and that he believes Carson's family stands behind it.

"Her family, I will just say, will support the state," he said. "They want closure. It's been horrible. They have to live with it every day for the rest of their lives."

Woodall told Superior Court Judge Thomas H. Lock that Atwater and Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr. shot Carson five times. Lovette, investigators believe, shot her four times with a .25-caliber handgun, and Atwater shot her once in the head with a 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun, he said.

"He (Atwater) had been seen with that weapon prior to this crime," Woodall told Lock.

Investigators found the handgun broken into pieces and there appeared to be attempts to dismantle the shotgun, Woodall said. But he did not say where the weapons were found.

Physical evidence also linked Atwater to the shotgun and linked Lovette to being inside Carson's Toyota Highlander.

Carson had been at home studying, Woodall said, and evidence showed she had opened an e-mail at 3:35 a.m.

Atwater and Lovette told various people they had been in the area on foot near Carson's home looking for someone to rob, Woodall said.

"Essentially, they walked up Friendly Lane, they could see a person in that house, and the blinds on the windows of that house were raised that morning," he said.

Woodall said Atwater told different stories about what happened next. In one, Atwater said he and Lovette kidnapped Carson from inside her home. In another, he said, they acted as if their car had broken down and took her outside her home and stole her SUV.

"Based on the appearance of her residence, the state, at this time, believes she was probably abducted just outside her home," Woodall said.

They used Carson's ATM card to withdraw $1,400 from her bank account. They made a withdrawal shortly before 4 a.m. at a Bank of America in Chapel Hill. Woodall said, and they also used it at other locations in Durham.

Woodall said they drove around for a while before going to Hillcrest Drive, where police found Carson's body around 5 a.m.

There were no clear statements about what exactly happened before Carson's death, he said.

Last month, a grand jury handed up additional indictments against both men, including first-degree kidnapping, armed robbery, larceny and possession of stolen goods.

Federal sources tell WRAL News that federal investigators are also looking at carjacking charges, which can carry a death sentence if prosecutors can prove the crime was committed during a homicide.

Since the death penalty was reinstated in North Carolina in 1977, no one has been sentenced to death in Orange County. The last person executed for a crime in Orange was John Breeze in January 1948.

Lovette, 17, who is also charged in the Jan. 18 shooting death of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato, is not eligible for the death penalty. A 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibits the execution of anyone who was under age 18 at the time of a crime. He was 16 then.

If convicted in Carson's death, the maximum sentence Lovette could face is life in prison without parole.


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  • Dr. Dataclerk Aug 12, 2008

    bring attention to them while they live, breath and cost the taxpayers money to keep them.

    Funny, you are paying for their stay in jail right now, a bed/cot to sleep on, food etc. Your tax dollars are at work whether you like it or not. They are in the states hands now and the state will have to take care of them.

  • celong Aug 12, 2008

    Death penalty and not this be on death row for 10 years, after they have a website, write a book, get Jesus, Buddah or Allah or whoever else, get married, TV movie, documentary on how their poor upbringing led to this and whatever else we can muster bring attention to them while they live, breath and cost the taxpayers money to keep them. Shotgun blast to the head. Personally I/m for public hanging starting next MOnday at 8:01am. Need some prisoner beds? Clean out death row is one whack. Sure, I believe there are innocent people are there but innocents die in war every day and we are in a war in the country and not from oversea terrorists. Regular people are terrorized by criminals of the revolving door justice system. Not that I would like to live in China but you notice how they are the seoond highest organ transplant nation in the world. Where do you think they get those organs? Might work here....

  • Dr. Dataclerk Aug 12, 2008

    Remember even when put on death row, these people sit there for many years to come. They have right too. But what is the whole point of the death row. Take Blanche Taylor Moore for example: She is still there after several years and looking good. Barbara Stager was give the death penalty but now that has been changed to life in prison. Still want the death penalty so that one of the boys will be executed. How do one feel knowing one will be executed and the other will not for the same exact crime of murder?

  • Dr. Dataclerk Aug 12, 2008

    - I agree, but the special attention this girl gets because she's got a pretty face

    Please!!! Looks is not everything. A young girl was murdered is what I am looking at.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Aug 12, 2008

    I am, however, fine with life in prison, no possibility for parole. None. You are in there, and you are NEVER leaving.

    I think that'd be more of a deterrent than the death penalty, where people sit on death row for YEARS, are never executed in the first place, and they cost infinitely more than just keeping a regular prisoner locked up for the rest of his/her natural life.

    A good comment that I readily agree with you on. Life in prison would be the better choice. Why execute one and the other get life, when they both commited the same crime. Lets don't forget the 17 also killed another student at duke.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Aug 12, 2008

    Dr. Dataclerk: "Killing them is never going to bring the late Ms. Carson back."

    No it won't. But it will GUARANTEE that they will NEVER be able to kill another Ms. Carson. I'm a logical person. And I like definites. And the Death Penalty is a definite answer to a problem.

    I see what you are saying, but what about all the other murderers that are sitting in prison for years or life. These boys are young and sitting in jail right now. What real purpose would be served in taking their life at this very moment. None that I can see. What I see is they will never be able to walk the streets again or commit any kind of crime including murder. Prison life is not something they are looking forward to. But I am glad you can comment on this board etc. but you will not have a say in court on the two boys that are up for the hideous murder. For that has made my day just knowing you will not have no kind of input whatsoever. :)

  • Dr. Dataclerk Aug 12, 2008

    WOW! You need to lose the 'Dr.' at the beginning of your name. there is NO WAY you could have made the comment you made.

    First of all the name stays. :) Now you really have said a mouth full here but I still sit tight with my comment. I am just glad I do not have the anger and hatred in me that you have. I am glad too, that I know I can forgive. When they do execute, I hope sincerely you go and watch it and be satisfied afterwards. I don't think that you will. You really are all talk.

  • wellunceducated Aug 12, 2008


  • mondosinistro Aug 12, 2008

    WHat have you got against trees? (-;

  • hdsoftail Aug 12, 2008

    ja turtle, I have found most people agree with you, and I dont understand why they dont do exactly what you said. I guess there are too many tree huggers out there.