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Death penalty sought against suspect in UNC shooting

  • Story Highlights
  • Feds will seek death penalty for 22-year-old Demario James Atwater
  • Feds cannot seek death for Lawrence Alvin Lovette because of his age
  • Atwater and Lovette are accused of abducting Carson, shooting her
  • Carson was honor student, student body president at UNC-Chapel Hill
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(CNN) -- Federal prosecutors said Friday that they will seek the death penalty for a 22-year-old man accused in the shooting death last year of Eve Carson, student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Demario James Atwater, left, and Lawrence Alvin Lovette are charged with Carson's murder.

Police said UNC student body President Eve Carson was taken from her home and killed.

A grand jury indicted Demario James Atwater on October 27 on federal charges of carjacking resulting in death, carrying and using firearms in relation to carjacking, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possessing a short-barreled shotgun not properly registered to him.

He also faces state first-degree murder charges in Orange County, North Carolina, along with 18-year-old Lawrence Alvin Lovette.

"Both federal and state law violations are implicated in the tragic events of March 5, 2008, and we will vigorously prosecute the violations of federal law committed in connection with the death of Eve Marie Carson," said Anna Mills Wagoner, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, at the time of Atwater's indictment.

An autopsy report showed that Carson, an honors student, had multiple gunshot wounds when she was found lying on a Chapel Hill street. The autopsy report listed six gunshot wounds but said two of the wounds were probably from the same bullet.

Court documents released in the North Carolina case said Carson was taken from her apartment and forced to provide her abductors with ATM access to her bank account before she was shot to death in the early hours of March 5.

Applications filed for search warrants said a confidential informant told police that Atwater said he and Lovette entered Carson's home through an open door and forced her to accompany them in her car. The informant said she had talked with Atwater after a picture was shown on television of someone attempting to use Carson's ATM card at a convenience store two days after her body was found.

The informant said the two men drove Carson to an ATM, obtained her PIN from her and then shot her. The witness told police that Atwater said the two got about $1,400 from Carson's account. Bank records show that was approximately the amount taken from the account over a two-day period, the documents said.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall has said he also will seek the death penalty against Atwater, according to the Raleigh News and Observer. Authorities cannot seek the death penalty against Lovette because he was 17 at the time of the slaying, the newspaper said.

Carson's death shocked the community and drew national attention. An estimated 10,000 people turned out for a service in her honor.

The Athens, Georgia, native was a pre-medicine student double-majoring in political science and biology. She was a recipient of the university's prestigious Morehead Scholarship and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, according to UNC.

All About Murder and HomicideEve CarsonUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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