Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall tells Eyewitness News that he was informed Monday morning about the grand jury proceedings. Since the start of the investigation, federal prosecutors have been working closely with Woodall's office.
"We've been attempting to work together on this. This was no surprise. The state will still go forward with its case. This in no way affects the state's case," he said.
The new charges have drawn criticism from Atwater's court-appointed attorney.
"I am disappointed to learn of the federal indictments," said James Williams, the public defender for the Orange-Chatham County District, "This is not a case where there's an overriding federal government interest. It's not a case where the federal case is more substantial than state and local authorities. The crimes alleged occurred in Chapel Hill in the state of North Carolina-- not on federal property."
Williams said Chapel Hill Police and the State Bureau of Investigations took the lead on the Eve Carson case. Atwater is charged with multiple offenses in state court including first degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon and kidnapping. "
Atwater and his co-defendant Lawrence Lovette, Jr. will be back in court next month for a special session. Lovette is not eligible for the death penalty because of his age.