Lovette, Atwater indicted in Carson murder

March 31, 2008 5:15:24 PM PDT
Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall tells Eyewitness News both 17-year-old Lawrence Lovette, Junior and 21-year-old DeMario Atwater were indicted on one count of first degree murder each.

While Lovette is too young to qualify for the death penalty, a hearing to determine whether the state will seek the death penalty against Atwater if he's convicted is tentatively scheduled for May 5th.

While the grand jury was meeting in Orange County, Atwater was brought over to the Wake County Jail for a probation violation hearing in a secured courtroom.

At least six armed officers watched over the 21 year old during the hearing that lasted less than 10 minutes. Atwater was caught trespassing and possessing a firearm as a felon twice while on a 3-year probation for breaking into a house in Raleigh.

He was first busted in June of last year but probation officers didn't arrange a court date for him until March of this year, nine months later.

On that date there was confusion about which courtroom he needed to be in. The hearing was rescheduled for March 31st.

Days later Carson was killed. Atwater was later identified as the suspect through surveillance photos that showed him trying to use Carson's ATM card at a convenience store.

State Representative Dan Blue, a Wake County Democrat, says the case shows that there are serious problems within the probation system.

"Those kinds of breakdowns indicate that we have to do something much more aggressively than we've done," Blue said.

Blue will call for Department of Correction officials to testify before the House and Senate when they reconvene in May.

Lovette, the other suspect was on probation too when authorities say he killed Carson and Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato in January.

His probation officer never met with him face to face, tried to fill in records the day of his arrest and had her own run-ins with the law.

Correction officials say Atwater's probation file was handled by several officers in a short period of time.

"The public has to have confidence in the system," Blue said. "If we have a system where probationers are supposed to be supervised and are supposed to be in contact with their probation officers, and if it's not working then we are obligated to find out why."

Representative Blue says the problem is either incompetence or a lack of resources.

"Either that person is incapable of doing the job or is overwhelmed. In either of those cases it is incumbent upon the department and the legislature to make sure the resources are there and people of the quality to get the job done the way that it should be done there."


Load Comments