State News

Attorneys: New DNA doesn't match suspects in UNCC student's slaying

Posted February 5, 2009
Updated May 9, 2009

— Court papers filed late this week say that new DNA evidence casts doubt on the guilt of two men charged with first-degree murder in the death of a University of North Carolina-Charlotte student last May, according WBTV in Charlotte.

Mark Bradley Carver, 40, of Gastonia, and Neal Leon Cassada Jr., 54, of Mount Holly, are out on bond awaiting trial in the death of Irina Yarmolenko, 20. The Chapel Hill High School graduate was found strangled on the banks of the Catawba River in Mount Holly.

According to court papers filed by the suspects' attorneys, DNA from items tied around Yarmolenko's neck – including a bungee cord and ribbons – do not match that of either men. Neither does DNA fond under Yarmolenko's fingernails, according to the court papers.

The papers say that DNA from both suspects was found on Yarmolenko's vehicle, which was beside her body.

Carver and Cassada have said they were fishing in the Catawba River that day but did not see Yarmolenko. Both men have maintained their innocence.

In the papers, the lawyers argued that their clients do not need as many restrictions, such as electronic monitoring and a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew, while awaiting trial.

Cassada's lawyer, David Phillips, has said that another man in the Mecklenburg County Jail had confessed to the slaying in a letter to a television station, but refused to talk to investigators. The confession was from a 37-year-old man who was locked up May 21 – two weeks after Yarmolenko was killed – on rape charges, Phillips said.


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  • haggis basher Feb 6, 2009

    I suspect they will drop the charges......that confession (although idiots confess all the time) and perhaps a botched (or fixed) investigation may have muddied the waters too much for a conviction. Maybe they just tried to blame it on these two hapless joes but case is unreavelling. I can't think of any other reason they would have lowered bail on a crime like this.
    If they did it they would be fools not to run. What have they to lose?

  • beachboater Feb 6, 2009

    How can you have a bond at all when charged with 1st degree murder?

  • Dr. Dataclerk Feb 6, 2009

    It should have been no bond. They should have kept them in jail until their trial. Remember the late Eve Carson, who lost her life because her killers were on probation? When will society and police ever learn?

  • SweetB Feb 6, 2009

    House arrest?????????????????? This poor child didn't get a chance to go back home, to call her family or friends, to eat again, she didn't get the freedom to BE again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!