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Atwater pleads guilty to state charges of first-degree murder

Demario Atwater, one of two men charged with killing former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student body president Eve Carson, pleaded guilty to state charges of first-degree murder Monday. Because of his guilty plea, Atwater will not receive the death penalty.

Atwater also pleaded guilty today to first-degree kidnapping, possession of a firearm by a felon and robbery with a dangerous weapon and received life in prison without the possibility of parole for the March 5, 2008 incident.

Monday’s court session marked the second time Atwater, 23, could have received the death penalty. Last month, Atwater pleaded guilty to federal charges of carjacking resulting in death and kidnapping and received a life sentence without parole.

Carson, a pre-med Morehead-Cain scholar who was close to graduation, was found dead in a neighborhood near UNC’s campus. Before shooting Carson five times, Atwater and Laurence Lovette, his alleged accomplice, kidnapped her and forced her to withdraw money from an ATM.

Lovette was also arrested for the death of Duke engineering graduate student Abhijit Mahato, 29, who was shot and killed in his home at the Anderson Apartments near West Campus Jan. 18, 2008. Lovette faces first-degree murder charges for both students’ deaths.

Carson’s family offered a statement after the hearing supporting Atwater’s life sentence.

"We won't be talking to the court about how our lives are diminished without Eve," said Wade Smith, a Raleigh lawyer, on behalf of Carson’s family, as reported by the (Raleigh) News & Observer. "The effects of her death are both obvious and personal. We choose not to confront Demario Atwater. The selfishness of taking another's life is incomprehensible."

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