Federal authorities are considering charges that could result in a federal death sentence for a man accused of killing UNC-Chapel Hill student leader Eve Carson.
A committee in the U.S. Justice Department met Monday to review the case, a spokesman confirmed. However, the spokesman, Erik Ablin, declined to comment further. The committee’s recommendation will go to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
Two people, Demario Atwater, 22, and Laurence Lovette 17, are accused of shooting Carson on a residential street after a robbery and kidnapping near the campus March 5. Their trials are expected to take place next summer at the earliest.
Orange District Attorney Jim Woodall has said he will seek the death penalty in state court for Atwater; Lovette is not subject to capital punishment because of his age.
It was not immediately clear what federal charges could be involved, and Ablin declined to explain why the U.S. attorney has jurisdiction in the Carson case, saying, “The internal deliberations on a particular case are confidential.”
Nearly 50 different federal crimes can trigger a federal capital case. Several could apply in the Carson case: first-degree murder, shooting with a weapon of mass destruction such as a sawed-off shotgun, or murder during a kidnapping, carjacking or other crime of violence. WRAL-TV reported that federal authorities were considering a carjacking charge, but the station did not name its source for the information.
To seek the death penalty against a defendant in federal court, a local U.S. attorney must submit the case to advance review by the Justice Department. The Review Committee on Capital Cases, which met Monday in the Carson case, considers the request and then makes a recommendation to the attorney general.
[Editors Note: Earlier stories on the Eve Carson case can be read starting here.]