Wednesday, June 2, 2010

In the name of their daughter

Thanks to the Death Penalty Information Center for posting this North Carolina newspaper editorial about the opposition to the death penalty from the family of Eve Marie Carson, who was murdered in 2008.

Eve Marie Carson received many honors in her brief lifetime. She was an outstanding undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, popular among a virtual multitude of her fellow students who cherished her gentle ways and compassionate friendship.

She was respected by them so much that they elected her student body president. She was by all accounts a young woman who was on her way to making a difference in this world, thoughtful and committed to the people and causes about which she cared.

On Monday, in a Hillsborough courtroom, her family recognized her goodness again and reminded all who knew her, or just knew of her, just how much she will be missed. Thanks to them, to their daughter and to their shared opposition to the death penalty, Demario Atwater, charged in her brutal slaying that took place on March 5, 2008, will not go on trial for his life. The Carson family stoically sat in court as Raleigh attorney Wade Smith, who has been advising them, read their statement regarding the life-without-parole plea agreement.

The statement was powerful, saying that "today's outcome is neither adequate nor good," but that "it honors Eve's love of life and all people." Family members - Carson's father, Bob, her mother, Teresa Bethke, and her brother, Andrew Carson - did not speak. "We won't be talking to the court about how our lives are diminished without Eve," Smith read.

So with the court's acceptance of the plea deal, Atwater will not face a death penalty trial at which the full force of the state would have been brought against him, and instead will spend the rest of his own wasted life in prison.

His co-defendant, Laurence Alvin Lovette, now 19, is charged with murder, kidnapping and robbery in the case, which for him is pending. Because he was 17 at the time of the slaying, he will not face the death penalty. Both Atwater and Lovette were on probation, but their supervision was disgracefully lax, which was the case for too long in North Carolina.

The crime was especially brutal, with Carson taken from her home, driven around to withdraw cash from ATM machines and shot five times. The first four shots did not kill her. A final shotgun blast did.

It must have been unspeakably horrible for her family to know that, and to hear it in court. They were brave simply in their presence.

A desire for revenge, an eye for an eye, would have been entirely understandable. Somehow, the Carsons managed to resist it in the name of their daughter. For their courage in even facing this day, they deserve the admiration of all. Their daughter was a very special person. The same may be said of those who raised her.

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