Local News

Carson search warrants will be released

Posted June 27, 2008 6:47 a.m. EDT
Updated June 27, 2008 6:12 p.m. EDT

— A Superior Court judge ruled Friday that six search warrants relating to the Eve Carson homicide case can be unsealed.

Judge Allen Baddour found that releasing the information about the UNC-Chapel Hill senior's March 5 death would no longer be detrimental to the state's case.

The warrants were expected to be made public later Friday.

Defense lawyers for the two suspects in the case wanted to keep the warrants sealed, but Baddour said it is possible to maintain the fairness of the judicial process by other means.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall had pressed to keep the six search warrants and a letter private until detectives finished the investigation. He also expressed concerns about the safety of informants.

He withdrew his request to keep the warrants private on Friday, saying investigators were completing the last of their interviews and that the state had taken every step to ensure the safety of informants.

"There is still some concern about safety of informants, however, the state's taken every step that we feel like we can to ensure their safety," Woodall said.

He asked, however, that the other document stay sealed.

One of the suspects' defense attorneys, Karen Bethea-Shields, who wants to keep the warrants from being released, said some of them contain hearsay and information from anonymous sources.

Bethea-Shields said the statements would make her client, Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., look guilty to the same public from which a jury would come.

"With things that you get, you must make sure you understand that they are still allegations and that evidence will come from the courtroom," Bethea-Shields said.

The Durham Herald-Sun filed a motion in April, asking for the warrants' release. But Bethea Shields argued Friday that Lovette's rights, at this time, are stronger than the media's and that the warrants contain evidence that might not be allowed in the court record at the time of trial.

The warrants likely record evidence that led police to the arrests of Lovette, 17, and Demario James Atwater, 22, as well as the cause of Carson's death.

Police were responding to reports of gunshots when they found Carson's body on a residential street about a half-mile from campus, but have never disclosed how she died.

Woodall has said he will not object to Carson's autopsy report being released after June 30. It is expected to be released Monday.