The slain student body president at the University of North Carolina likely raised her right arm to protect herself from a single shotgun blast that tore through her hand before striking her in the head, according to an autopsy report released Monday.
Eve Carson was shot four other times, according to the report from the Office of the State Medical Examiner that simply lists her cause of death as "multiple gunshot wounds." The 22-year-old from Athens, Ga., was found March 5 lying on a street not far from the university's campus.
Prosecutors have charged two Durham men — Laurence Lovette, 17, and Demario Atwater, 22 — with first-degree murder in her death. Lovette and another man are also charged with the January murder of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato.
Lovette’s attorney didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment Monday. Atwater’s attorney, Jonathan Broun, declined to comment on the specifics of the autopsy results.
“We urge everybody not to have a rush to judgment and let the legal system play itself out,” Broun said.
The report on Carson's death was unsealed and made public Monday, weeks after its completion. Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall had requested it remain shielded from public review so that investigators could complete their work on the case.
The report said Carson was shot five times, including once in the right cheek by a "full metal jacketed bullet" and in the right shoulder by a similar bullet that penetrated her right lung and traveled into her small intestine. She was also shot in the right upper arm and in the right buttock.
'Numerous birdshot pellets'
But the most vicious wound came from a shotgun blast that struck her right hand before impacting her head and brain, where the medical examiner recovered a "numerous birdshot pellets and a plastic shot cup."
"These wounds most likely represent a single shot with the hand acting as an intermediate target," the report said.
Woodall said he couldn't comment on the autopsy report in detail except to say it showed a handgun and a shotgun were used in the attack on Carson.
"It was the primary reason we asked that it be sealed" during the investigation, Woodall said, declining further comment.
The autopsy report said Carson was wearing a light gray T-shirt, dark blue sweat pants and light blue, gray and white athletic shoes at the time of her death. She was also wearing a yellow metal necklace with a small locket and a white paper wristband on her left wrist that said "Be true" and "Nike."
Informant helped crack case
In court documents released last week, authorities said a confidential informant told police that Atwater said he and Lovette entered Carson's home through an open door, took her and her vehicle to an ATM, and ended up withdrawing about $1,400 over two days. Investigators confirmed the dollar figure by reviewing Carson's bank records, according to the records.
The informant also said Carson was shot by both suspects. An affidavit signed by an investigator said the informant's statements were corroborated because two separate weapons were used in the shooting.
Lovette and Stephen Oates, 19, of Durham, are charged in Mahato's death. His autopsy showed the 29-year-old had been shot once at point-blank range in the forehead.