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Defense wants info on tipsters in UNC murder case

Posted December 30, 2009

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— Orange County's chief prosecutor does not want to turn over to defense attorneys Crime Stoppers information that led to the arrest of two suspects charged in last year's slaying of UNC-Chapel Hill's former student body president.

During a hearing Wednesday, District Attorney Jim Woodall asked Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour for an order protecting the information, which he argued could identify those that helped lead police to Eve Carson's suspected killers.

Laurence Lovette Jr. Crime Stoppers tip at issue in UNC murder case

Turning over the information, he argued, could also compromise the telephone hotline system, which is supposed to protect tipsters' identities.

According to search warrants in the case, an anonymous caller connected detectives investigating Carson's March 5, 2008, shooting death to a confidential informant who ultimately led them to arrest Demario James Atwater and Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr.

Police found Carson, 22, dead about a half-mile from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill while responding to early-morning reports of gunshots. She had been shot five times, according to an autopsy report.

Woodall said Wednesday that defense attorneys have been allowed to look at the Crime Stoppers information but that he does not want to turn over copies of the information because doing so would compromise a vital crime-fighting tool.

"Crime Stoppers helps law enforcement solve crimes that simply would not otherwise be solved because people are guaranteed anonymity," he said. "By allowing this material simply to be produced to the defense, it will identify many people who gave tips in this case, and it would, I believe, actually hamstring this program."

Defense attorneys argued that the information needs to be turned over because the state cannot pick and choose what it thinks is important.

"They want to authorize a system that allows them to collect information, use the parts that are helpful for the state and bar discovery of the parts that are helpful for the defense," Lovette's attorney, Kevin Bradley, said.

Baddour said he will rule on the matter next week.

According to search warrants, an anonymous caller contacted Crime Stoppers six days after Carson's death, saying that a man known as "Rio" said he and an unknown individual took Carson to the ATM with the plan of obtaining her personal identification number and then killing her.

The caller also connected investigators with the confidential informant, who told them that the suspects forced Carson into the back seat of her Toyota Highlander with Atwater. Lovette drove. Atwater also confided to the informant that Lovette shot Carson multiple times and that he shot her as well, the warrants state.

Both Lovette and Atwater face a number of state charges in the case, including first-degree murder. Atwater also faces federal charges and, if convicted, could be sentenced to death.

Lovette was in court for Wednesday's hearing; Atwater waived his right to attend.

43 Comments

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  • BraveHeart Dec 31, 2009

    I agree with (AtALoss)speedy trial swift execution..I have some full metal jackets if they need some...i would be happy to give them to the court

  • DredScott Dec 31, 2009

    Sixth Amendment – Trial by jury and rights of the accused; "Confrontation Clause", speedy trial, public trial, right to counsel

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; "to be confronted with the witnesses against him"; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

  • Reason Season Dec 30, 2009

    right? And if the police vet a tip and determine the tipster is not reliable or worse is culpable than the investigation would not protect them. Crimestoppers in no way is designed to protect bad behavior! Yet, this is one of two first ploys the defense team has floated in this case. (move the case because of media coverage was the other one) SHAME ON THEM! I hope the good people of Orange County are watching Judge Baddour and understanding they put him in office and his rulings affect how safe Orange County NC is and will be. The Defense’s conduct in my opinion is what we all should be focusing on right now. To Ddcooper, I would offer – a judicial system based on defense attorneys or judges corrupting and perverting instead of helping to promote public safety is not what any DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY can tolerate!

  • Reason Season Dec 30, 2009

    Dbcooper wrote “ a judicial system based on secret informants is a scary thought in most democratic societies”. I question the veracity of that statement! When carefully examined I believe it is seriously flawed. Isn’t our JUSTICAL SYSTEM designed to promote public safety? I can’t understand why any Judge would need time to ponder whether or not he should corrupt or dismantle Crimestoppers. We often hear in civil court how informants/tipsters anonymity must be protected or there will be a chilling effect. When we talk of CRIMINAL CONDUCT, isn’t there a real potential for a KILLING EFFECT? What Judge could ignore CRIMESTOPPERS benefit to society and personally alter, after the fact, the risk factor to participate in this program? We have good Samaritan protection laws. How far of a reach is it to assert that Crimestopper program is based on good Samaritan conduct? Where is the common sense in Orange County? When a tip is called in, authorities still must vet the tip

  • AppFan Dec 30, 2009

    You can buy Full Metal jacket bullets for almost any handgun at Wal-Mart. Spend about $350 at any gun show and you can buy a press and the supplies to hand load your own bullets.

  • dohicky Dec 30, 2009

    That is why the hotline is there. To protect people and get info needed to put away thugs that prey on innocent people. Can't understand why they want the name of anyone,

  • The Fox Dec 30, 2009

    This is all about billable hours. The longer the defense drags this out the more $$$ they make.

  • jrfergerson Dec 30, 2009

    if trhey get what they want - you can count on possibly never getting another confidential call from an informant again no matter what the crime may be

  • snidelyputz Dec 30, 2009

    Turning over the identities of the tipsters may be detrimental to their health. In some cities, witnesses have been eliminated. Letting the guilty free. Don't let it happen here.

  • wattsun Dec 30, 2009

    there is a link in the wral archives.
    yes, I did look it it up and saw that.

    "yes, there is much more to this story. my opinion is that she was executed by others and they were framed."
    Wow that's a pretty strong statement, do you have any more to share? My first sense of this story was something was not adding up as well as well but as the case unfolded it looks but it looks like its pretty locked up.
    So are you a Sleuth type? I recognize the name from the infamous DB Cooper and have always wanted to ask you about that.

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