Local News

Eve Carson murder suspects indicted on additional charges

Posted July 7, 2008 5:17 a.m. EDT
Updated July 8, 2008 2:47 p.m. EDT

— The two men charged with murder in the death of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Student Body President Eve Carson were each indicted Monday on additional charges, including first-degree kidnapping and armed robbery.

Demario James Atwater, 22, and Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., 17, also face one count each of felonious larceny and felonious possession of stolen goods.

Atwater was also indicted on a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon, and possession of weapon of mass destruction for the size of the shotgun that investigators believe was used to kill Carson.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said that if the overall size of a shotgun is less than 26 inches or the barrel is less than 18 inches, it could be considered a weapon of mass destruction.

But he declined to comment on whether the new charges meant authorities have recovered the weapons used in Carson's death. He also declined to say whether the weapons charge meant investigators believe Atwater used a shotgun to shoot Carson.

"We indicted in a way that the investigators and the prosecutors in my office who reviewed the evidence as we know it today felt comfortable," he said.

Chapel Hill police found Carson, 22, of Athens, Ga., dead several blocks from the UNC campus on March 5 while responding to a report of gunshots. She had been shot five times, including once to her head with a shotgun, according to an autopsy report released last week.

Search warrants released last month suggest both suspects might have shot Carson; a confidential informant told investigators that Atwater told her Lovette shot Carson multiple times and that Atwater subsequently shot her.

Also, federal sources told WRAL News Monday that federal investigators are also looking at carjacking charges against the two suspects, – a charge that can carry a death penalty sentence if prosecutors can prove the carjacking was committed during a homicide.

Woodall has not indicated whether he will seek the death penalty against Atwater. A hearing was scheduled for Monday but was postponed until Aug. 11.

Woodall said the move was to give defense attorneys to review more information on the case and to give Carson's family an opportunity to travel for the hearing. He did not say if they planned to do so.

Possible federal charges are significant because Orange County juries have rarely sent someone to death row. The last defendant executed from Orange County was in 1948.

Under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Lovette cannot be tried on capital murder charges, because he was under the age of 18 at the time he allegedly committed the crime.