Local News

UNC murder suspect wants police videos

Posted February 2, 2010 6:18 p.m. EST
Updated May 25, 2010 11:28 a.m. EDT

— Defense attorneys for a man facing federal charges in the death of the UNC's former student body president want copies of Durham police patrol car video and surveillance video from the booking room where he was kept.

They believe the videos might show their client, Demario James Atwater, was subjected to physical and mental threats and abuse, according to a motion filed Monday.

Attorneys have also filed a motion to suppress any statements that were not electronically recorded.

Eve Marie Carson was shot five times and left in a neighborhood several blocks from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus on March 5, 2008.

Atwater faces federal kidnapping and carjacking charges, which mean the death penalty if he is convicted.

Atwater’s attorneys have requested an evidentiary hearing before a judge on whether to move the case out of state. They say Atwater would be unable to get a fair trial because of the media attention surrounding Carson’s death.

His trial is scheduled for May, but attorney Kimberly Stevens argued last week that the "staggering" amount of coverage of the case could keep her client from receiving a fair trial.

U.S. District Judge James A. Beaty Jr. has not ruled on the matter and did not say when he would do so.

Screening of potential jurors will begin Feb. 22 with them filling out a questionnaire at the federal courthouse in Winston-Salem.

In court documents dated Sunday, defense attorneys asked to have the race of every potential juror noted.

In addition to federal charges, Atwater faces the death penalty on state charges that include first-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery, felonious larceny and felonious possession of stolen goods.

A trial date, however, has not been set, for those charges.

Authorities say Atwater and another man, Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., kidnapped Carson and forced her to withdraw money from ATMs before shooting her. Federal prosecutors allege that Atwater fired the fifth and final shot that killed Carson.

Lovette, who was 17 when Carson was killed, also faces several charges, including first-degree murder. He, however, is not eligible for the death penalty under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits the executions of criminals under 18 at the time of the crime.