Federal prosecutors consider death penalty in Carson case

HILLSBOROUGH Demario Atwater, 22, was arraigned in federal court in Greensboro on Tuesday. He pleaded not guilty to all federal charges. A trial date was set for November, 2009.

The U.S. Attorney General says the decision on making it a death penalty case will be made within 30 days. If it becomes a capital case, it would be the first Federal capital case for carjacking in the middle district of North Carolina.

Investigators believe Eve Carson was taken near her Chapel Hill home on the morning of March 5, 2008. According to an autopsy report, Carson was shot five times including the face. Investigators have said Atwater and the other suspect in her death - Lawrence Lovette Jr. - drove Carson's SUV to various ATMs in Chapel and Durham before the murder.

Both men are facing several charges, including first-degree murder, robbery and kidnapping. But, Lovette, 18, is ineligible for the death penalty because of his age. The Orange County District Attorney has announced he’ll seek the death penalty against Atwater, if he’s convicted. But, Orange County juries rarely support death sentences.

A special state hearing about possible evidence in the Eve Carson case was cancelled last week. According to Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall, both sides have agreed that more time is needed to gather additional evidence in the case. Attorneys for Lovette and Atwater are expected to file motions requesting access to records that are traditionally kept confidential.

Defense attorneys are interested in the Crime Stoppers report related to the case, specifically the identity of callers who received a financial reward for information, according to Woodall.

The attorneys are also seeking access to a gang information database known as GangNet. It allows law enforcement to exchange confidential information about suspected gang members. But, a judge would have to determine whether specific information should be turned over to Lovette and Atwater's defense team, said Woodall.

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