Judge denies change of venue in Carson trial

Demario James Atwater of Durham appears for his first bail arraignment in Hillsborough, N.C., Wednesday, March 12, 2008. (AP Photo/Sara D. Davis)
April 13, 2010 8:51:29 PM PDT
On Tuesday, a judge denied a change of venue for one of the suspects in the Eve Carson murder case.

Demario Atwater's lawyers argued last month that their client can't get a fair trial in North Carolina because of the intense media coverage the case has received so far. Attorneys said they would have liked the case to be tried in Virginia.

The judge ruled Tuesday that Atwater can still get a fair trial, despite the news coverage.

Meanwhile two weeks ago, Atwater's lawyers alleged in court documents that he was abused by police on the night he was arrested for Carson's murder.

Also charged in Carson's murder is Lawrence Lovette, Jr., who will be tried separately.

Carson was the UNC student body president at the time of her death. She was kidnapped and shot in a neighborhood near campus on March 5, 2008.

According to an autopsy report, she was shot five times. Investigators have said Atwater and Laurence Lovette drove Carson's SUV to various ATMs in Chapel and Durham before the murder. They say the Athens, Georgia woman watched as hundreds of dollars were withdrawn from her bank account.

Both men are facing several charges, including first-degree murder, robbery and kidnapping. Federal prosecutors are also pursuing carjacking and weapons charges against Atwater, making him eligible for the federal death penalty if he's convicted.

In his federal trial set to begin in Winston-Salem later this year, defense lawyers are trying to get statements made by Atwater to police on the night of his arrest thrown out because he was in fear of more abuse.

Lawyers allege he was assaulted by Durham police and that Atwater statements that night are not reliable and shouldn't be used at his trial.

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