New evidence casts doubt on guilt of suspects in Yarmolenko case

By Tom Roussey - bio l email

GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Court papers filed Thursday and Friday raise new questions about whether two suspects are guilty of the murder of a UNC Charlotte college student.

20-year old Ira Yarmolenko was found dead on the banks of the Catawba River in Mt. Holly in May 2008.  That December, Gaston County residents Mark Carver and Neal Cassada were arrested and charged with her murder.

New court papers filed by both men's attorneys say that DNA from several items that were found tied around Yarmolenko's neck does not match either suspect.  Those items include a bungee cord and ribbons.

The court papers say DNA from Yarmolenko's fingernails does not match the suspects either.

Yarmolenko died of asphyxiation.

The court papers say the two men's DNA was found on Yarmolenko's vehicle.  Yarmolenko's body was discovered lying outside that vehicle the day of her murder.

Mark Carver proclaimed his innocence in a jailhouse interview he did the day he was arrested in December.  He said he and Cassada had been fishing in the river.

Cassda's family has said since the beginning that he is innocent as well.

The attorneys for the two men filed the new court papers in an effort to get their bond restrictions lessened.  The two men got out on bond in February, and are currently wearing electronic monitors and have to be home between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The papers say a trial could still be a year away, and the latest evidence shows the men do not need to be restricted that much while out on bond.