Carson suspects get new charges

Grand jury hands down indictments

Staff WriterJuly 8, 2008 

— An Orange County grand jury on Monday indicted the two men accused in the slaying of Eve Carson on charges of armed robbery, first-degree kidnapping, felonious larceny and possession of stolen goods.

The jury also indicted Demario Atwater on additional charges of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a weapon of mass destruction. Authorities say Atwater wielded a sawed-off shotgun.

Despite investigative records showing that police think Carson was also shot with a handgun, suspect Laurence Lovette does not face weapons charges because he does not have a felony record. Prosecutors cannot consider Lovette's juvenile record for the purpose of lodging additional charges.

Both men were indicted March 31 on first-degree murder charges in the March 5 slaying of the UNC-Chapel Hill student leader. She was shot five times, according to an autopsy report released last week.

Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall left unanswered the question of whether authorities believe the account of an anonymous informant who said Atwater told her he and Lovette entered Carson's home and took her from it. None of the new indictments reflects such a scenario.

Search warrants and related documents indicate that Carson may have been abducted from her home, forced into her Toyota Highlander and driven to an automated teller machine before she was shot in a neighborhood near campus.

A Rule 24 hearing, at which Woodall will announce whether he'll pursue the death penalty against Atwater, was postponed until Aug. 11. Woodall said that attorneys needed more time to prepare and that he wanted to give Carson's family more time to decide whether to attend.

If Atwater is convicted of murder, some of Monday's new charges could translate into aggravating factors to support a death sentence.

Orange County has not sent anyone to death row since 1970; no offender in Orange County has been executed since 1948.

Lovette, 17, is not eligible for the death penalty because of his age.

Lovette is charged also with first-degree murder in the death of Abhijit Mahato, a Duke University engineering student from Bengal, India, shot in a robbery in January.

jesse.deconto@newsobserver.com or (919) 932-8760

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