Atwater sentenced for probation violations

May 1, 2008 12:52:08 PM PDT
A man accused in the shooting death of University of North Carolina student body president Eve Carson pleaded guilty Thursday to probation violations. A lawyer for Damario Atwater, 21, said his client didn't know he was on probation because his probation officer hadn't contacted him in more than a year. Atwater was on probation for gun and break-in charges.

A Wake County judge revoked his probation Thursday, meaning Atwater will serve about two to three years in prison.

The other suspect in Carson's death, 17-year-old Laurence Lovette, also was on probation when Carson was killed. Carson, 22, of Athens, Ga., was found shot to death March 5 in a street near campus in Chapel Hill. Atwater and Lovette are charged with first-degree murder.

An internal investigation by the Department of Correction determined Atwater's probation cases were handled by 10 different officers and Lovette never met with his probation officer. State Community Corrections Director Robert Guy, the state's probation chief, has said findings were "flat-out embarrassing."

Department officials have asked a federal agency to review the training and practices of probation offices in the state's urban areas.

Also Thursday, Attorney General Roy Cooper said he wants the department to give information to local law enforcement about people on probation, parole or under post-release supervision. Cooper said police departments, sheriff's offices and other law agencies should be able to get the information when it's entered into a state system.

"Law enforcement is sick of arresting suspects and making cases only to see the same offenders out on the street," Cooper said in a statement. "We should be able to see immediately if a suspect is on probation when he's caught committing another crime, so he can be put in jail."


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