Atwater gets life in prison for Eve Carson murder

Staff writerSeptember 23, 2010 

— WINSTON-SALEM -- Demario Atwater will spend the rest of his life in federal prison for killing UNC-Chapel Hill Student Body President Eve Carson in 2008.

Atwater, of Durham, received a life sentence on a charge of kidnapping resulting in death and a 10-year sentence on a separate charge of discharging a weapon resulting in death, plus another life sentence and two additional 10-year sentences to run concurrently on federal carjacking and weapons charges.

Federal District Court Judge James Beatty also imposed restitution of more than $212,000 to be paid monthly if Atwater ever gets out of prison. Beatty noted that statutes required him to set a payment schedule.

"It's not likely the defendant under any circumstance will be on supervised release," he said.

Carson's parents sat quietly in the front row listening to the 30-minute long hearing Thursday morning in Winston-Salem. They declined to speak to the court on Atwater's sentencing.

Atwater did speak, looking directly at the Carsons and apologizing.

"I'm sorry for for everything that's happened," he said. "No matter what the court did today it would be far from anything I should receive."

Atwater and his attorneys said they had prepared a statement on Atwater's life of hardship to persuade the judge to implement the least possible sentence but they decided not to present it.

"It wouldn't be nothing but a waste of time," Atwater said.

His lawyer Kim Stevens explained that Atwater asked the team of three attorneys not to present evidence of his life history.

"This day is not about him," she said. "It's about his acceptance of responsibility, and it's about the Carson family."

The judge imposed intensive substance abuse treatment and psychological evaluation.

In the spring, Atwater pleaded guilty on state murder charges and the federal carjacking, kidnapping and weapons charges. Orange County Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. His federal plea arrangement spared him from the death penalty.

Laurence Alvin Lovette, 19, of Durham, also is accused of murder, kidnapping and robbery in the case. His case is pending in Orange County, but Atwater could play a large role in the outcome. District Attorney Jim Woodall has said Lovette's DNA had been found in Carson's Toyota Highlander.

Investigators say Atwater and his co-defendant kidnapped Carson, former UNC-Chapel Hill student-body president from her Chapel Hill home in March 2008. They forced her into her Highlander, drove through Orange and Durham counties and forced Carson to withdraw $1,400 from automated teller machines before they shot her numerous times with a .25-caliber handgun and the sawed-off shotgun, investigators say.

A medical examiner's autopsy report showed that Carson was shot five times, with the first four shots from a small caliber handgun.

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

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