Local/State

Two arrested in slaying of UNC student

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The second suspect charged with murdering University of North Carolina student body president Eve Carson surrendered peacefully to police early Thursday, authorities said.

Lawrence Alvin Lovette Jr., 17, was arrested by patrol and SWAT officers several hours after they surrounded a home in Durham where he was hiding inside, said Durham police Lt. Robert McLaughlin Jr.

Lovette and Demario James Atwater, 21, of Durham, are both charged with first-degree murder in Carson's death. The 22-year-old from Athens, Ga., was found March 5 lying on a street about a mile from campus. She had been shot several times, including once in the right temple.

Atwater made an initial court appearance Wednesday in Hillsborough. Shackled at the ankles and waist, and with a public defender at his side, Atwater only whispered "yes" when asked if he understood the charges against him. His next court date was set for March 24, and he was ordered held without bond.

"I hope the arrest can ease the minds of some in the community," said Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall.

Lovette remained in Durham police custody Thursday morning, said Chapel Hill police Lt. Kevin Gunter. It wasn't immediately clear when he would be transferred to their custody or make an initial appearance on the murder charge, he said.

Police surrounded a home on Cook Road in Durham after getting an anonymous tip around midnight that Lovette was inside, McLaughlin said. Lovette was the only person at the house and he was arrested at 4:16 a.m. after officers talked him into surrendering, McLaughlin said.

Atwater was arrested around 5 a.m. Wednesday as he left a home in Durham that police had placed under surveillance after getting a tip he was inside. He appeared to have a wound and a bruise on his right cheek at his court appearance. Chapel Hill Police Chief Brian Curran said officers had taken him to a hospital as "part of the evidence collection" process.

Curran would not say Wednesday which suspect detectives believe shot and killed Carson.

State records indicate both suspects are currently on parole. Lovette was given a suspended sentence in January for misdemeanor larceny and breaking and entering. Atwater was convicted of felony breaking and entering in 2005 and illegal possession of a firearm in 2007. He also received a suspended sentence.

Messages left with the Orange County public defender's office on Wednesday were not returned.

In the days after Carson's death, police focused their investigation on a several ATM and convenience store surveillance photos.

Police believe Lovette was pictured in two photos taken at an ATM, driving Carson's Toyota Highlander while Atwater is in the back seat. Police also believe Atwater was the suspect shown trying to use Carson's ATM card inside a convenience store.

Curran has previously declined to say when the surveillance photos were taken or the exact location of the ATM and convenience store, or if any money was successfully withdrawn from Carson's account.

Carson's death led to a massive outpouring of grief at North Carolina. The school's Board of Trustees offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in her death, and police received hundreds of tips after the first two photos were released over the weekend.

Carson was a prestigious Morehead-Cain scholar at North Carolina, where the biology and political science major was remembered by thousands who gathered last Thursday at two campus memorial services. Hundreds of mourners filled the First United Methodist Church in Athens on Sunday at a memorial service in her hometown.

The university said Wednesday a third memorial service will be held next week at the Smith Center, the school's basketball arena.

"Our interests are in seeing justice served and helping our community during this difficult time," university Chancellor James Moeser said in a statement. "We are thankful for all of the expressions of support pouring in for the Carolina family and our local community in these past few days. Those kind thoughts and prayers for Eve Carson's family and our community have made a difference."

(Copyright ©2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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