News and Press Releases

Guilty Plea In Eve Carson Case

April 10, 2010

Guilty Plea In Eve Carson Case

Greensboro, NC – Anna Mills Wagoner, United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, announced that DEMARIO JAMES ATWATER, charged with the March 5, 2008 murder of UNC-Chapel Hill Student Body President Eve Marie Carson, pleaded guilty today to charges of carjacking resulting in death, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2119(3); kidnapping resulting in death, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201; carrying and using firearms during and in relation to carjacking and kidnapping resulting in death, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(iii), 924(c)(1)(B)(i) and 924(j)(1); possession of firearms by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2); and possession of a short-barreled shotgun without such weapon being properly registered, in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 5861(d) and 5871.

ATWATER, age 23, was originally indicted for carjacking and the three firearms offenses on October 27, 2008. A Superseding Indictment filed January 30, 2009 added the kidnapping count, as well as the notice of special findings necessary for the prosecution to seek the death penalty. By his guilty plea, ATWATER acknowledges that a sentence of life imprisonment will be imposed. “A life sentence in the federal criminal justice system means just that: life without the possibility of parole or early release,” noted U.S. Attorney Wagoner.

Carson’s parents released the following statement: "While we deplore the evil and negligence that led to Eve's death, we agree with the U.S. Attorney's decision to accept the plea agreement. We are very grateful for the dedication and hard work that have gone into the investigation and prosecution of this crime." They declined further comment on the plea and asked that all questions be directed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“Eve Carson’s murder was a senseless, random act of violence. Today’s plea spares Ms. Carson’s family and friends the uncertainty and pain of a drawn-out trial and endless appeals,” said U. S. Attorney Wagoner. “We hope this resolution will help the Carson family put this horrendous act behind them, as best they can, and move on with their lives.”

ATWATER is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on September 23, 2010. The maximum punishment provided by law for Counts One through Three of the Superseding Indictment is life imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. The maximum punishment for Count Four of the Indictment is imprisonment for not more than ten years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. The maximum punishment for Count Five of the Indictment is not more than ten years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Chapel Hill Police Department, and the Durham Police Department.

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