Local News

Feds to seek death penalty against Carson murder suspect

Posted January 16, 2009 4:54 p.m. EST
Updated January 16, 2009 6:13 p.m. EST

— Federal prosecutors announced Friday they will seek the death penalty against one of the men accused of killing former University of North Carolina student leader Eve Carson.

Demario James Atwater, 22, faces federal charges of carjacking and firearms resulting in death in connection with Carson's March 5 slaying.

A federal trial date is slated for November.

Anna Mills Wagoner, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, made the announcement in a news release. She declined to comment further.

Investigators believe Atwater and another man, Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr, 18, kidnapped Carson and forced her to withdraw $1,400 from ATMs before shooting her five times, including once in the head, near UNC's campus.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall has said he is also seeking the death penalty for Atwater on state charges related to the crime, which include first-degree murder, robbery and kidnapping.

It's still unclear whether Lovette will face any federal charges. He is ineligible for the death penalty under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling because he was under age 18 at the time of the crime of which he is accused.

Dan Boyce, a former federal prosecutor, says the death penalty is rare in federal cases but not unprecedented.

Since 1977, there have been three cases in which federal prisoners have been executed, including Timothy McVeigh for his role in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.