Local News

Federal judge sets Atwater trial for May 2010

Posted June 15, 2009 10:26 a.m. EDT
Updated June 15, 2009 11:28 a.m. EDT

— One of the suspects in the March 2008 kidnapping and shooting death of a UNC student leader, will stand trial on federal charges beginning May 3, a judge ruled Monday.

During a pre-trial hearing, defense attorneys said they would not have enough time to prepare for Demario James Atwater's trial, which had been set to begin Nov. 2.

Atwater, 23, faces 11 state and federal charges in connection with the March 5, 2008, shooting death of Eve Marie Carson, including federal charges of kidnapping, carjacking resulting in death and carrying and using firearms during and in relation to carjacking.

Federal prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty against Atwater, whom they allege fired the fifth and final shot that killed Carson, who at the time was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's student body president.

In a motion filed last month, his attorneys said the state crime lab was still analyzing a shoe print, an ATM receipt and other evidence found in Carson's SUV. They also wanted more time to research Atwater's upbringing and background.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys, as well as Atwater's family, declined to comment Monday.

Carson, 22, was shot five times, including once in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun, and left on a street near the UNC campus. Police found her body after residents reported hearing gunshots.

Atwater and another man, Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., 18, face state charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery, felonious larceny and felonious possession of stolen goods.

Atwater also faces charges of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a weapon of mass destruction for the size of the shotgun investigators believe was used in the crime.

The state has said it will also seek the death penalty for Atwater. A trial date, however, has not been set.

Under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits the executions of criminals under 18 at the time of a crime, Lovette will not face the death penalty because he was 17 when Carson was killed.