Local News

UNC murder suspect wants federal case moved out of state

Posted December 15, 2009 6:03 p.m. EST
Updated December 15, 2009 11:06 p.m. EST

— The attorneys for one of two men accused of killing the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's student body president last year want to move the federal trial in the case out of state.

In a motion filed last week in U.S. District Court, Demario James Atwater's attorneys cite "extensive" media coverage that has tainted the jury pool throughout the state as grounds for moving the trial outside North Carolina.

Atwater faces a number of federal charges, including kidnapping and carjacking resulting in death, in the March 5, 2008, shooting death of Eve Marie Carson. His trial is set for May.

"The media latched onto the story and has not let go," the motion, filed Dec. 11, states. "The publicity surrounding this case has been staggering."

The motion cites a statewide survey conducted in June that found 80 percent of respondents have knowledge of the case and that 52 percent already believe Atwater is guilty of killing Carson.

Fifty-two percent said they believe Atwater should be sentenced to death.

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.