Suspects charged in UNC murder

March 12, 2008 6:20:19 PM PDT
Two suspects were charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in the killing of the University of North Carolina's student body president, though one remains at large. Demario James Atwater, 21, of Durham, was arrested and ordered held without bond. Police said they are still searching for the second suspect, 17-year-old Lawrence Alvin Lovett Jr.

Chapel Hill Police Chief Brian would not say which of the suspects shot and killed Eve Carson, 22, of Athens, Ga., who was found a week ago lying on a street about a mile from campus. The biology and political science major had been shot several times, including once in the right temple.

In the days after Carson's death, police focused their investigation on several ATM and convenience store surveillance photos.

Police believe Lovett was pictured in two photos taken at an ATM, driving Carson's Toyota Highlander with Atwater in the back seat. Police also believe Atwater was the suspect shown trying to use Carson's ATM card inside a convenience store.

Curran has previously declined to say when the surveillance photos were taken or the exact location of the ATM machine and convenience store, or whether any money was successfully withdrawn from Carson's account.

The Board of Trustees at North Carolina offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in her death, and police received hundreds of tips after the first two photos were released over the weekend.

Curran declined to say whether Lovett was the subject of an intense police standoff Wednesday afternoon in nearby Durham. City Councilman Eugene Brown said it appears the standoff was resolved without an arrest.

Police in Durham refused to comment, referring all questions about the standoff to police in Chapel Hill.

Shackled at the ankle and waist and with a public defender at his side, Atwater whispered "yes" when asked whether he understood the charges against him. His next court appearance was scheduled for March 24.

"I hope the arrest can ease the minds of some in the community," District Attorney Jim Woodall said.

Messages left with the Orange County public defender's office were not returned Wednesday.

State records indicate both suspects are on parole. Lovett was given a suspended sentence in January for misdemeanor larceny and breaking and entering. Atwater was convicted of felony breaking and entering in 2005 and illegal possession of a firearm in 2007. He also received a suspended sentence.

Carson was a prestigious Morehead-Cain scholar at North Carolina, where she was remembered by thousands who gathered Thursday at two campus memorial services. Hundreds of mourners filled the First United Methodist Church in Athens on Sunday at a memorial service in her hometown.

The university said Wednesday a third memorial service will be held next week at the campus basketball arena.

"Our interests are in seeing justice served and helping our community during this difficult time," university Chancellor James Moeser said in a statement. "We are thankful for all of the expressions of support pouring in for the Carolina family and our local community in these past few days. Those kind thoughts and prayers for Eve Carson's family and our community have made a difference."

--- Associated Press writer Erin Gartner reported from Chapel Hill.


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