Eve Carson Murder Suspect Pleads Guilty, Dodges Federal Death Penalty

Eve Carson, student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, applauds during election night Feb 15, 2007 in Chapel Hill, N.C. Carson was found shot to death on a city street in what police said Thursday, March 6, 2008 appeared to be a random crime, stunning the campus community who knew her well. Officials said there are no suspects and no arrests have been made. (AP Photo/The Daily Tar Heel, Beth Ely)
AP/Beth Ely, Daily Tar Heel
Eve Carson, student body president at the UNC Chapel Hill
Eve Carson, who was was student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (AP Photo/The Daily Tar Heel, Beth Ely)

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (CBS/WRAL/AP) Demario Atwater, one of two men charged in the murder of University of North Carolina student body president Eve Carson, has pleaded guilty to several federal charges related to her death.

PICTURES: Eve Carson, UNC Student Murdered

To avoid a possible death sentence, Demario James Atwater, 23, pleaded guilty Monday to five charges, including carjacking resulting in death and kidnapping resulting in death in the March 5, 2008, shooting of Eve Carson. He now faces life in prison on the federal charges. 

Atwater, however, still faces the death penalty on state charges in Carson's death, which include first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery. He is expected to appear in Orange County Superior Court next week for a pre-trial hearing on the state charges.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said Monday that the federal plea has no bearing on the state's case, which still has not been scheduled for trial.

According to the agreement, filed Friday, Atwater also pleaded guilty to one count each of carrying and using firearms during and in relation to carjacking and kidnapping resulting in death, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a short-barreled shotgun without such weapon being properly registered.

Sentencing is scheduled in U.S. District Court on Sept. 23.

"While we deplore the evil and negligence that led to Eve's death, we agree with the U.S. attorney's decision to accept the plea agreement," Bob Carson and Teresa Bethke said. "We are very grateful for the dedication and hard work that have gone into the investigation and prosecution of this crime."

"I want to express my condolences to the Carsons," Atwater's mother, Peggy Maybrey said Monday, declining further comment.

Laurence Lovette, who was 17 at the time of Carson's murder, was also arrested in connection with  her death, and faces first-degree murder charges. Lovette also faces a first-degree murder charge in the Jan. 18, 2008, shooting death of Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato who was found dead in his apartment near campus.