Demario Atwater appeared in a Winston-Salem federal courtroom for sentencing in connection with his plea deal.
In addition to the sentence, the judge waived a $250,000 fine. However, Atwater is ordered to pay $212,947.10 as restitution for the loss of Carson's vehicle, loss of employment and funeral expenses. Part of that money is a refund to the state for the victim's compensation fund.
Atwater also will participate in a substance abuse program and undergo a psychological evaluation. He has 13 days to file an appeal.
Carson's family was present but did not comment.
Atwater apologized to the family. He said, "I was prepared to put on evidence about my past but that would've been a waste of time. This is about me getting my punishment no matter what the court gives me. It's far from what I should receive. To the Carsons I just want to say I'm sorry for everything that happened.
In April, Atwater pleaded guilty to federal carjacking charges in exchange for a life sentence.
Atwater's guilty plea included admitting to carjacking resulting in death, kidnapping resulting in death, carrying and using firearms during and in relation to carjacking and kidnapping resulting in death, possession of firearms by a convicted felon, and possession of a short-barreled shotgun.
Because Atwater agreed to a life sentence, the death penalty is not an option in the federal case.
Following that plea, Atwater pleaded guilty in May to state charges that include first-degree murder and, first-degree kidnapping and armed robbery. He is already serving a life sentence for those charges.
Atwater's co-defendant and alleged accomplice, who was 17 at the time of the crime, also faces state charges. Lovette's age makes him ineligible for the death penalty, but he's facing double murder charges in both Orange and Durham counties.
A date for his state trial has not been set.
Investigators say Atwater and Lovette kidnapped 22-year-old Carson from her Chapel Hill home on March 5, 2008 and then drove her around in her SUV to various ATMs in Chapel Hill and Durham.
An autopsy revealed that Carson was shot five times before her body was left on a residential street in Chapel Hill about one mile from UNC's campus.