Carson autopsy results delayed

HILLSBOROUGH, NC Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall originally asked that the report on Carson's death remain under seal for 60 days, or until June 30. Woodall said he does not intend to ask that the report remain sealed after that, and neither do the lawyers for the two defendants charged in her death.

"These are public records," Woodall said. "I only requested 60 days so some final parts of the investigation can be completed."

The News & Observer of Raleigh had asked a judge to order the autopsy report released. The newspaper's attorney said Wednesday he had withdrawn that motion, and a hearing on the issue scheduled for Wednesday was canceled.

"In light of Mr. Woodall's representations, however, and the imminent expiration of your order, we see no reason to take up the court's time and energy to deal with an issue that apparently will become moot in a few days," attorney Hugh Stevens wrote in a letter to Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour.

Authorities have charged Demario Atwater, 21, and Laurence Lovette, 17, both of Durham, with first-degree murder in Carson's death. Carson, 22, from Athens, Ga., was found March 5 lying in the middle of a residential street in Chapel Hill, about a mile from the university's campus. She had been shot several times, including once in the right temple.

Lovette also is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Abhijit Mahato, 29, a computational mechanics doctoral student at Duke University, originally from Tatangar, India.

Mahato was found dead Jan. 18 inside his apartment a few blocks south of Duke's campus. He had been shot in the forehead at point-blank range as a pillow was held tightly against his face. Authorities have also charged Stephen Oates, 19, of Durham, with murder in Mahato's death.

Also under seal are six search warrants. In April, Baddour declined to release those documents, saying they contained information that could jeopardize the case or threaten the safety of confidential informants. He also said making the documents public could hurt the defendants' right to a fair trial. The Herald-Sun of Durham had asked the court to unseal the warrants.

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