Search warrants unsealed Friday describe what may have been the final terrifying moments in the life of a promising college student: Kidnapped after choosing to stay home and study, taken in her own vehicle to be robbed at an ATM, and shot multiple times.
Despite strong objections by defense attorneys, Superior Court Judge R. Allen Baddour released six warrants that helped police arrest Laurence Lovette, 17, and Demario Atwater, 22, both of Durham. Both are charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Eve Carson, the former student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Lovette's attorney, Karen Bethea-Shields, said the warrants largely rely on hearsay from a confidential informant that could unfairly taint potential jurors in the high-profile case.
"Things that you get, you must make sure that you understand these are just allegations and evidence will come from the courtroom," she said.
Jonathan Brown, a defense attorney for Atwater, said: "This is obviously a terrible tragedy, and we have great sympathy for the family and friends of Eve Carson. At this time, we just want to have the legal system do its job and avoid any rush to judgment."
Original accounts contradicted
The warrants contradict the original accounts of the slaying, which first appeared to be a random carjacking in Chapel Hill.
One warrant said a confidential informant told police that Lovette and Atwater entered Carson's home through an open door, took her and her vehicle to an ATM, and used her pin to withdraw money from her bank account, totaling $1,400 over two days.
Investigators found a Bank of America receipt from Carson's account during a search of her vehicle when it was found a day after she was killed. There was a partial shoe print on the receipt, and investigators said they have seized several pairs of gym shoes from the suspects' homes, the warrants said.
The informant said Carson was shot multiple times by Lovette and was later shot by Atwater. An affidavit signed by State Bureau of Investigation special agent Brian Fleming said the informant's statements were corroborated because two separate weapons were used in the shootings.
A warrant also says police took blood, hair and saliva samples from the suspects to investigate if a sexual assault took place, but Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said Friday the tests are standard and there's no reason to believe Carson was sexually assaulted.
Autopsy report still sealed
Carson was found dead March 5 in the middle of a residential street in Chapel Hill about a mile from campus. Police have said the Athens, Ga. native had been shot multiple times, including once in the right temple. The autopsy report remains sealed but was expected to be released next week.
She was last seen alive earlier that morning, around 1:30 a.m. when she stayed home to do schoolwork while her roommates went out, authorities said. Officers found her body in the street after neighbors reported hearing shots around 5 a.m.
Police received hundreds of tips after releasing surveillance photographs from an ATM machine and a convenience store. Atwater and Lovette were arrested within a week of Carson's death.
Lovette also is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato, who was found dead Jan. 18 in his apartment near the university's campus in Durham, about a 20-minute drive from Chapel Hill. An autopsy showed Mahato, 29, had been shot once at point-blank range in the forehead. Stephen Oates, 19, of Durham, also is charged with murder in Mahato's death.