updated 4/2/2008 10:43:48 PM ET 2008-04-03T02:43:48

A probation officer assigned to a teenager charged with killing the University of North Carolina's student body president was handling 127 cases without benefit of training, state corrections officials said Wednesday.

A state investigation into the case also found that Laurence Lovette never met with probation officer Chalita Thomas, while the other defendant in the killing, Demario Atwater, had his probation cases handled by 10 different officers.

"This is a dark cloud over our agency," said Robert Lee Guy, director of the state Division of Community Corrections.

Guy said no one has been fired but three senior probation and parole officials in Wake County have been reassigned. Other temporary and permanent disciplinary actions may be forthcoming, he said.

Lovette, 17, and Atwater, 21, both of Durham, are charged with first-degree murder in the March 5 slaying of Eve Carson, who was found shot to death on a street not far from the university's campus in Chapel Hill.

Lovette also is charged in the fatal shooting of a Duke University graduate student.

Lovette pleaded guilty to misdemeanor larceny and breaking and entering on Jan. 16 in Durham, received a two-year suspended sentence and was placed on probation.

In the six weeks that followed, authorities in Durham arrested Lovette several times and charged him with nine different crimes, including burglary, car theft, breaking and entering, and resisting arrest.

He was released after each arrest.

The investigation found that Thomas was working in an atmosphere of constant staff vacancies, case reassignments and a lack of training, the report said. Officials said those conditions led to a variety of deficiencies in the probation case.

The state investigation found that Atwater's probation cases were passed to 10 different staff members who failed to follow procedures between 2005 and 2008. Atwater was twice ordered to be placed under intensive probation, which includes mandatory curfews, weekly contact and warrantless searches, but the officers handling his case never did so.

"It's flat-out embarrassing. It's totally unacceptable by our standards — by any agency's standards," Guy said.

Carson was killed a few days after Atwater was first scheduled to appear on a probation violation resulting from firearms charge to which he had pleaded guilty eight months earlier. He was sent to the wrong courtroom and the probation hearing was delayed.

Atwater could face the death penalty if convicted of Carson's death; Lovette cannot be executed because of his age.

Lovette and another man are charged in the killing of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato, who was found shot to death Jan. 18 in his apartment in Durham — just two days after he was first placed on probation.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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