State News

UNC murder suspect arraigned on federal charge

Demario Atwater, accused of killing University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student body president Eve Carson, pleaded not guilty to an added kidnapping charge.

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — One of two suspects accused in the death of University of North Carolina student body president Eve Carson pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a federal kidnapping charge that was added to the case last month.

Demario James Atwater Jr. already faces 10 other state and federal charges in connection with Carson's March 5 shooting death, including federal charges of carjacking resulting in death and carrying and using firearms during and in relation to carjacking.

A superseding indictment last month from a federal grand jury added the kidnapping charge. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.

A trial date on the state charges has not been set, and because Atwater is in federal custody, it is likely that the federal case will be tried first.

U.S. District Judge James A. Beaty Jr. also denied a request Wednesday from Atwater's attorney to move his client's trial to January 2010. The case is scheduled to go to trial sometime in November.

Atwater and Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., 18, face state charges that consist 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.

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.

The state has said it will also seek the death penalty for Atwater.

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.

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