Defense, state present closing arguments in Mark Carver hearing

Judge to decide if Mark Carver gets new trial

GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - We’ll have to wait nearly two months before we find out if a Gaston County man, who’s serving a life sentence for murder, will be released from prison or get a new trial thanks to a new hearing.

Mark Carver was convicted of killing UNC Charlotte student Ira Yarmolenko. Investigators said Carver strangled the 20-year-old to death in 2008, and since then Carver has spent the last 10 years behind bars.

After nearly a dozen witness testimonies, closing arguments have wrapped up and now it’s all in the hands of judge.

Mark Carver’s lawyer, Chris Mumma, believes Carver is locked away because his former attorneys did a bad job during the 2011 murder trial, she doubts the DNA evidence and says Carver couldn’t not carry out such crime because his mental and physical abilities are limited.

While the state says all the proof they need is in the DNA and Carver’s former attorneys are some of the most experienced Gaston County has to offer.

“I am exhausted. It’s Friday afternoon and I’m tired,” said Gaston County District Attorney, Locke Bell, to reporters right after closing arguments.

Chris Mumma, declined to speak once the hearing wrapped up.

For the last two weeks, wounds have been reopened as Ira Yarmolenko’s death becomes the talk of the town once again.

Officials have said that in May of 2008 Carver went fishing with his cousin Neal Cassada along the Catawba River. How long they were there has always been in question, but according to police records, the only thing that was certain was they found Carver’s fingerprints on the outside of Yarmolenko’s car.

However, through new testimony from a detective who collected the DNA, he said he never found a match of Carver’s DNA.

Carver has always said that he was an innocent man. The highlight of the hearing was when he took the stand for the first time to sing the same tune. He never had the chance to do so during his original trial because his former attorneys thought it would do more harm than good.

“He had very, very high qualified lawyers and he got a fair trial. The thing is, he’s guilty,” Bell said.

Carver’s new defense team says there was a lot of evidence that went untested and could have cleared his name. Something police officers who were working the case testified to over the last several days as well.

After being asked if the state has plans to appeal the decision, if the judge does chooses to drop the charges for Carver or call for a new hearing, and Locke Bell said that’s a question that he wasn’t going to get into right now.

The judge overseeing the case said he has plans to make a decision before June 1st.

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