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Eve Marie Carson

Eve Marie Carson (November 19, 1985 – March 5, 2008) was a student at the University of North Carolina who was shot and killed on the morning of March 5, 2008, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States. She served as Student Body President and was a recipient of the Morehead-Cain Scholarship. Demario James Atwater, a 21-year-old resident of Durham, North Carolina was charged with her murder,[1] and on May 24, 2010, Atwater pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in a plea bargain agreement that will have him serve life in prison without the possibility of parole[2]. A second suspect, 17-year-old Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr.,[3] was taken into custody early morning March 13, 2008.[4] Lovette was later also connected by investigators to the January murder of 29-year-old Duke University engineering student Abhijit Mahato.[5][6]


Carson was born in Athens, Georgia, on November 19, 1985, where she attended Clarke Central High School.[7] She was elected president of the high school's student body and was valedictorian.[8] While at UNC, Carson majored in Political Science and Biology, in the pre-medicine career path.[8] Her academic achievements earned her membership in the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, and she was a recipient of the Morehead-Cain Scholarship. Outside of class, Carson participated in and led numerous organizations and service projects. She was selected to be a North Carolina Fellow, a four-year leadership development program. Her dual-major Bachelor's Degree was posthumously awarded to her surviving family (parents & brother) at the May 2008 UNC graduation ceremony she would have attended had she lived.

Carson was inaugurated as UNC's student body president in April, 2007, and her term was due to expire in April, 2008. In her role as student body president, Carson served as a member of the university's board of trustees and many other committees. She was also active as co-president of the Honors Program Student Executive Board and as a member of the Committee on Scholarships, Awards and Student Aide, the Academic Advising Program, the Chancellor Search Committee, and the Chancellor’s Committee for University Teaching Awards.



Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr. using Carson's ATM card

Carson's body was found at the intersection of Hillcrest Circle and Hillcrest Drive in Chapel Hill at approximately 5 a.m. on March 5, 2008.[9] Police could not immediately identify the body, but at 9 a.m. on March 6, 2008 police investigators and the office of the medical examiner identified the body as that of Carson.[10] Chapel Hill Police Chief Brian Curran said that Carson's death appeared to be a random act. Police recovered her car more than a mile away from her body after receiving a tip from a local witness. Police also released images from a security video of a person using Carson's ATM card.[11][12]

Carson was shot several times including a shotgun blast to the head.[13] According to a confidential informant to Chapel Hill police, both Atwater and Lovette shot her.[14] The medical examiner said that Carson had not been sexually assaulted.[8][15]

Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr. was arrested almost 24 hours after the arrest of a man who, police say, joined him in the murder. Lovette, 17, and Demario James Atwater, 21, were charged on March 11, 2008 with first-degree murder in the crime.[3] On May 24, 2010, Demario Atwater pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, armed robbery, kidnapping and other charges related to the death of Eve Carson in a plea bargain agreement that will have Atwater serve life in prison without the possibility of parole[16].


UNC's Chancellor James Moeser spoke to the student body on the central quad, Polk Place, at 3 p.m., and at 7 p.m. students organized a candlelit vigil in "The Pit", a sunken plaza near the students' union building. The service included singing by three student a cappella groups and a slideshow of photos of Carson.[8] Hundreds of people attended Carson's funeral in Athens, including Moeser, who said that Carson was "truly a gift to Chapel Hill."[17] In honor of Carson, the North Carolina men's and women's basketball teams wore a black badge on their jersey that read "EVE" for the remainder of their seasons.[18]

File:Eve Carson Memorial.jpg

Temporary memorial on Polk Place

Unusual for North Carolina, records such as the autopsy report and search warrants were sealed from public view in the months after the murder.[19] On June 27, 2008, some information was finally released. Details in six warrants confirm that $1,400 was withdrawn from ATMs using Carson's card over a two-day period after the shooting. They also reveal that Atwater admitted to being the suspect attempting to use the ATM card in a security video taken in a local convenience store and that Lovette was indeed the person pictured in original ATM surveillance photograph.[14] The autopsy report was released on June 30, 2008.[20] A week later, additional charges of first-degree kidnapping and armed robbery were raised against the two murder suspects, along with felonious larceny and felonious stolen goods. Atwater was also charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of weapon of mass destruction.[21]

In 2008, federal investigators brought carjacking charges against Atwater. The significance of federal charges is that carjacking committed during a homicide carries the death penalty. While Atwater faces the death penalty under North Carolina law, the last execution in Orange County was in 1948. As a result of the Roper v. Simmons ruling, Lovette cannot face capital punishment as he was under 18 at the time of the crimes.[21]

In October 2008, federal authorities indicted Demario Atwater on federal charges for the carjacking of Eve Carson, requesting the death penalty. On April 19, 2010, Atwater pleaded guilty to federal carjacking, weapons and kidnapping charges.[22] In exchange for the guilty plea, federal prosecutors agreed to drop the death penalty.[22] Atwater is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on Sept. 23, 2010 and he is expected to receive a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.[22]

Atwater faced charges in state court,[22] and while the Orange County District Attorney announced on August 11, 2008 that he planned to seek the death penalty against Demario James Atwater for the murder of Eve Carson, on May 24, 2010, Atwater pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other charges in a plea bargain agreement that will have him serve life in prison without the possibility of parole[23].


To honor her life, the University of North Carolina established the Eve Carson Scholarship, in order to achieve Eve's goal of "reward[ing] students who had grown significantly in the areas of academics, social justice and leadership since their college matriculation". [24]

The case was brought to national attention again in 2009 after American idol finalist Anoop Desai, who was a good friend of Carson's, talked about the incident on the show and how it motivated him to audition.[25]

On the two year anniversary of her death, UNC dedicated the Eve Marie Carson Garden. One feature of the garden is a wall inscribed with her words: "Learn from every single being, experience, and moment. What joy it is to search for lessons and goodness and enthusiasm in others." [26]


On September 23, 2010 Demario James Atwater received a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for the first degree murder charge, along with a concurrent sentence of 23 to 29 years for armed robbery, kidnapping and firearms charges. He was order to pay $212,947.10 in restitution. Atwater will serve his sentence in federal custody. [27]


  1. AP Staff (2008-03-13). "UNC slaying suspect charged in Duke killing". Crime and Courts (Redmond, WA: MSNBC). http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23591462/. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
  2. Nicole Norfleet - AP Staff (2010-05-25). "Accused in UNC student's death, man pleads guilty". Myrtle Beach, SC: TheSunNews.com. http://www.thesunnews.com/2010/05/25/1493370/accused-in-unc-students-death.html. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lamb, Amanda; Hartness, Erin; Owens, Gerald (2008-03-12). "Suspect Charged, Another Sought in UNC Student's Slaying". Local News (Raleigh,NC: WRAL). http://wral.com/news/local/story/2561551/. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
  4. Chou, Renee; Owens, Adam; Lamb, Amanda; Hartness, Erin; Owens, Gerald (2008-03-13). "Police Capture 2nd Suspect in UNC Student's Slaying". Local News (Raleigh, NC: WRAL). http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/2568641/. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
  5. Chou, Renee; Bowens, Dan; Lewis, Julia; Owens, Adam (2008-03-13). "UNC Murder Suspect Also Charged in Duke Grad Student's Death". Local News (Raleigh, NC: WRAL). http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/2569358/. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
  6. Lamb, Amanda (2008-01-19). "Duke Graduate Student Shot to Death". Local News (Raleigh, NC: WRAL-TV). http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/2326688/. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
  7. Floyd, Allison (2008-03-07). "Grad's murder shocks Clarke Central". Local News (Athens, GA: Athens Banner-Herald). http://onlineathens.com/stories/030708/news_2008030700433.shtml. Retrieved 2008-05-19.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 AP Staff (2008-03-06). "UNC student president killed in 'random' crime". Crime and Courts (Redmond, WA: MSNBC). http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23504235/. Retrieved 2008-03-07.[dead link]
  9. DeConto, Jesse James; Stephenson, Emily (2008-03-06). "No suspect yet in Carson slaying". Crime and Safety (Raleigh, NC: The News & Observer). Archived from the original on 2008-04-15. http://web.archive.org/web/20080415132838/http://www.newsobserver.com/news/crime_safety/story/985826.html. Retrieved 2008-03-06.
  10. AP/CNN Staff (2008-03-06). "Thousands mourn slain UNC student; cops search for killer". Crime (Atlanta, GA: CNN). Archived from the original on 2008-03-10. http://web.archive.org/web/20080310234431/http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/03/06/unc.student.killed/. Retrieved 2008-03-06.
  11. AP/CNN Staff (2008-03-08). "Photos show 'person of interest' in student's slaying". Crime (Atlanta, GA: CNN). http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/03/08/student.killed/. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
  12. AP Staff (2008-03-08). "Cops release images linked to UNC slaying". National News (McLean, VA: USA Today). http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-03-08-student-president-slain_N.htm. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
  13. Carlson, Kelcey (2008-06-30). "Multiple gunshots killed Eve Carson". Local News (Raleigh, NC: WRAL). http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/3125964/. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Carlson, Kelcey (2008-06-27). "Warrants: Both suspects shot Eve Carson". Local News (Raleigh, NC: WRAL). http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/3116809/. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
  15. Gardner, Cynthia (2008-05-07). "Report of the Autopsy Examination (B200801036)" (PDF). Chapel Hill, NC: State of NC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. p. 4. http://content.news14.com/pdf/Carson.pdf. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
  16. Nicole Norfleet -AP Staff (2010-05-25). "Accused in UNC student's death, man pleads guilty". Myrtle Beach, SC: TheSunNews.com. http://www.thesunnews.com/2010/05/25/1493370/accused-in-unc-students-death.html. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  17. AP Staff (2008-03-09). "Hundreds attend services for slain students". Crime and Courts (MSNBC). http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23550281. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
  18. Lopresti, Mike (2008-03-24). "Tar Heels play on with tragedy on their minds". From the Press Box (McLean, VA: USA Today). http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/lopresti/2008-03-24-lopresti-unc_N.htm. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
  19. Carlson, Kelcey (2008-05-12). "Newspaper asks for Eve Carson autopsy results to be released". News (Raleigh, NC: WRAL). http://www.wral.com/news/news_briefs/story/2870531/. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
  20. Ullrich, Rachel (2008-07-03). "Carson autopsy reveals details". City (Chapel Hill, NC: The Daily Tar Heel). http://media.www.dailytarheel.com/media/storage/paper885/news/2008/07/03/City/Carson.Autopsy.Reveals.Details-3387446.shtml. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Carlson, Kelcey (2008-07-07). "Eve Carson murder suspects indicted on additional charges". Local News (Raleigh, NC: WRAL). http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/3161089/. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Blythe, Anne (2010-04-19). "Demario Atwater pleads guilty". Local News (Raleigh, NC: News & Observer). http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/04/19/444718/demario-atwater-pleads-guilty.html. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  23. Nicole Norfleet -AP Staff (2010-05-25). "Accused in UNC student's death, man pleads guilty". Myrtle Beach, SC: TheSunNews.com. http://www.thesunnews.com/2010/05/25/1493370/accused-in-unc-students-death.html. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  24. "History of Eve Carson Scholarship". University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. http://www.unc.edu/eve/index.php/about/history. Retrieved 2010-03-6.
  25. Garth Bardsley (2009-03-06). "Chapel Hill Student Eve Carson Remembered On 'American Idol'". MTV News (MTV). http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1606435/20090306/story.jhtml. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  26. "Eve Marie Carson Garden dedication set for March 4". UNC News Service (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). 2010-02-24. http://uncnews.unc.edu/content/view/3379/75/. Retrieved 2010-03-6.
  27. "UNC student's killer sentenced to life in federal prison". WRAL. 2010-09-23. http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/8335032/. Retrieved 2010-09-23.

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