Local News

UNC murder suspect back in court

Posted May 24, 2010 5:37 a.m. EDT
Updated May 24, 2010 9:01 p.m. EDT

— One of two men charged in the slaying of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's student body president returns to court Monday, more than a month after pleading guilty to federal charges related to the case.

Demario Atwater is scheduled to appear in an Orange County Superior Courtroom at 2 p.m. on several felony charges, including first-degree murder, armed robbery and kidnapping, in the March 5, 2008, shooting death of Eve Marie Carson.

Sources tell WRAL News that attorneys have been working on a plea deal in the state case, but there's been no official confirmation of an agreement.

Atwater pleaded guilty April 19 to federal charges in Carson's death, avoiding a possible death sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for September.

He also faces the death penalty if convicted in Orange County, but an Orange County jury has not sentenced a person to death in about 70 years.

Police found Carson's body in a neighborhood several blocks from the UNC campus while responding to reports of gunshots.

An autopsy found that Carson, 22, was shot five times and suffered wounds to the right temple and to her right hand – likely because she had raised her right arm to protect herself.

Chapel Hill investigators believe Atwater and another man, Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., kidnapped Carson and forced her to withdraw $1,400 from ATMs before killing her.

Lovette also faces several charges in the case, including first-degree murder, but because he was under age 18 at the time of the crime, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling makes him ineligible for the death penalty.

Lovette also is charged with murder in the slaying of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato, who was found shot to death in his off-campus apartment two months prior to Carson's death.