Local News

UNC murder suspect's federal trial to stay in N.C.

Posted April 13, 2010
Updated April 19, 2010

— A U.S. District Court judge on Tuesday denied a request to move out of state the federal trial for a man charged in the 2008 shooting death of the student body president of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Defense attorneys for Demario James Atwater asked for the change of venue last year, citing "extensive" media coverage that has tainted the jury pool throughout the state, which would violates their client's right to a fair trial by an impartial jury.

Atwater faces a number of federal charges, including kidnapping and carjacking resulting in the March 5, 2008, shooting death of Eve Marie Carson. His trial is set to begin May 3, and if he is convicted, he could face the death penalty.

In their motion, his defense attorneys cited a statewide survey conducted last June that found that 80 percent of respondents have knowledge of the case and that 52 percent already believe Atwater is guilty of killing Carson.

Fifty-two percent said they believe Atwater should be sentenced to death.

Atwater also faces the death penalty on state charges in the case, which include first-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery, felonious larceny and felonious possession of stolen goods. No trial date, however, has been set for those charges.

Authorities say Atwater and another man, Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., kidnapped Carson, forced her to withdraw money from ATMs, shot her five times, including once to the head, and left her on a residential street near the UNC campus.

Federal prosecutors allege that Atwater fired the fifth and final shot that killed Carson.

Lovette also faces several charges, including first-degree murder. Under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, however, he is not eligible for the death penalty.

That ruling prohibits the executions of criminals under 18 at the time of a crime. Lovette was 17 when Carson was killed.


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  • mountainlover Apr 14, 2010

    The presence of media publicity does not mean that someone cannot receive a fair trial, which was the defense attorneys' reason for seeking a change of venue. Based on this argument, the defendant could not receive a fair trial anywhere. The presence of the internet has enabled the facts of the case to be publicized nationwide. In fact, I have kept up with it on the internet. Also knowing about a case does not mean that a member of a jury cannot put what he/she knows aside and listen to what is presented in the courtroom. To this defense attorney, a fair trial = getting him off.

  • r u crazy too Apr 14, 2010

    unfortunately, a lot of the comments posted here is exactly why a change of venue was requested. I'd like to see whoever killed Eve fried, but everybody is entitled to a fair trial.

  • UNCfuturealumi Apr 14, 2010

    Tarheelfan13, then why the question to move it?

  • Barrackawack Apr 13, 2010

    pirateworld, I would rather not waste my time on the jury. You would just end up scarred for life from the victims story even worse. Death Row juror in 1997. TRUST ME ,BEEN THERE DONE THAT ! I would love to see him die though !

  • bcnc Apr 13, 2010

    Defense attorneys?? As in plural?? What are the chances that he is paying one penny of his own money for his defense. SO!!-how many lawyers on the taxpayer dime is he getting. Give him one and get on with it. When it's over, I'd like to know the total of our $ spend on this. Adios partner!!

  • IliveinwhackogopcontrolledNC Apr 13, 2010

    "Defense attorneys for Demario James Atwater asked for the change of venue last year, citing "extensive" media coverage that has tainted the jury pool throughout the state and therefore, violates their client's right to a fair trial by an impartial jury."

    "violates their client's right to a fair trial by an impartial jury."

    Really? Eve Carson didn't get a change of venue by impartial murderer(s). Hopefully, he'll get life with probation after twenty years and allowed back on the streets.

  • PirateWorld Apr 13, 2010

    This is the one time I would actually want to have juror duty!

  • Tarheelfan13 Apr 13, 2010

    momtobe,there is no federal courthouse in Hillsborough or Orange County so the federal trial could not occur in those locations. Besides when one commits a federal crime it is technically a crime against all United States citizens. So in theory the defendents federal crimes were just as much against Virginia citizens as they were a citizen of Orange County.

  • OSX Apr 13, 2010

    I know there is a need for defense attorneys; but I really wonder how they sleep at night. Well, I guess if it wasn't for them, they couldn't get a fair trial and we would just have to let them go. About the time I retire is when this guys trials will be over.

  • shortcake53 Apr 13, 2010

    I'm glad he has to face the music here. Why should he get special treatment? She didnt. Tough cookies kiddo.