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UNC murder suspect wants death penalty decision reversed

Posted November 12, 2009

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— Attorneys for Demario James Atwater have filed a motion asking that the federal court strike the death penalty in his case.

Atwater faces a number of federal charges, including kidnapping and carjacking resulting in death, in the March 5, 2008, shooting death of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's student body president, Eve Marie Carson.

In a motion filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina late last month, defense attorneys claim the Department of Justice violated its internal procedures and a court order when it held a meeting to determine whether to seek the death penalty without the presence of Atwater or his attorneys.

Attorneys cite an illness of one of the attorneys for not being present, as well as not enough time to prepare for that meeting.

"The appropriate remedy for this deprivation is for this court to strike the authorization of the death penalty in this matter unless and until the government grants the defendant an opportunity to be represented fully by his court-appointed counsel before the Capital Case Review Committee …" a memorandum attached to the motion stated.

A trial on the federal charges has been scheduled for May 3.

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.

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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  • RoseBud Nov 12, 2009

    OH boy...what a man he is.....I bet he does want to get out of the death penalty on a technicality, She had no chance to live her life...WHY should he???? You didn't give her a chance, so grow a set Atwater.... I bet she would have liked to live too, but you choose to be judge, jury and executioner. Now you can take it like a man, or go out a whimpering baby!!!

  • vsusu2002 Nov 12, 2009

    "UNC murder suspect wants death penalty decision reversed"

    Seriously!! I am sure the victim wanted her life too. Give me a break!

  • ranquick Nov 12, 2009

    A simple fact of his lawyer abusing the justice system, if he was found guilty then he needs and should get what he was handed.

  • WHEEL Nov 12, 2009

    Only reason the Feds got involved is that the Bleeding Hearts in Orange Co havn't sentenced anyone to death in 25 years. Notice he's not appealing the State charges.

  • mewuvbb Nov 12, 2009

    I vote on a swift execution!

  • grenlyn1 Nov 12, 2009

    Ummmmmmmm Nah!!!!!!!!!!

  • whocares Nov 12, 2009

    If one of the defendant's lawyers was sick, what happened to the others. They should have been there at the meeting. I am sure anyone of them could have understood what was being said. I guess this was their strategy all along to try and get the death penelty dropped. I hope their strategy backfires.

  • pommom12 Nov 12, 2009

    Somewhere there is a tiny violin playing its heart out.

    You don't want the death penalty? I'm sure your victim didn't either. You did the crime so you must to the time.

  • NC_native_belle Nov 12, 2009

    I like the burning him at the stake idea myself! What a sorry excuse for a "man"... I mean human being. He treated her as if she was target practice, and now he is afraid of having ONE needle stuck in his arm. He should be thankful he's getting out so easy. Yeah, the more I think about it the more I like the idea of him burning at the stake!

  • 6079 SMITH W Nov 12, 2009

    Only in America....A cold blooded killer wants to get out of the dirt-nap over a legal technicality, and the low-life lawyer is trying to HELP HIM! If he wishes to rigidly follow the law on saving his hide, why didn't look up the statutes on murder before he took that poor girl's life away from her? This case should be terminated with a tree chipper, not lethal injection.