GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - A courtroom bombshell. Was Mark Carver’s DNA really found on Ira Yarmolenko’s car in 2008? A Gaston county investigator’s testimony called that into question. This is big because DNA played a huge role in this investigation.
At the time, police said touch-DNA from Mark Carver was fond on Yarmolenko’s car. Jurors even said they believed Carver killed the 21 year old, because of the evidence.
Former Gaston County Detective, Jim Workman, also said there were some pieces of evidence that never went through testing. Even former prosecutor, Bill Stetzer, took the stand to say an officer handling the case never submitted a report of his findings. Mark Carver’s attorney, Chris Mumm,a questioned whether the state really wanted justice or just a conviction.
“I ain’t the one who done it," said Mark Carver in a jail house interview in 2008.
He turned down a plea deal which would’ve put him in jail for 8-years max, and if he had taken it, he probably would be a free man today. He decided to leave his fate to his peers.
“I had no problem at all coming to the conclusion that he was responsible for her death,” said Warren Newsome during an interview with WBTV in 2011.
Newsome was one of 12 jurors in Carver’s original trial. After sitting through days of witness testimony from the people who found Ira’s body, police and forensic specialists – he believed he made the right decision based on the evidence.
Fast forward to Friday, Carver is back in court fighting for a new trial and his defense attorney says she’s not sure jurors were presented with clear-cut evidence. Chris Mumma brought up the idea that evidence was tainted while former detective Workman was on the stand.
Workman said he was the one to collect fingerprints from Yarmolenko’s car two months after her body was found. He couldn’t say why he was called in to do so, so late in the investigation. He also admitted that at one point while collecting DNA, he was not wearing gloves.
After more questions from the defense, Workman went on to say that the car was not sealed while in storage, leaving the defense to argue that evidence could have been contaminated.
At the time of the investigation, police said that Carver’s DNA was found on the car and it’s a big reason why he’s serving a life sentence now.
“The fact that his DNA was on her car and her car was just a few feet from her, that put him right there with her body. I don’t see any other way that could happen unless he was involved with her death,” said Newsome, who served as a juror, in 2011 after the trial concluded.
But Workman testified on Friday that he told jurors during the 2011 trial that he never found a DNA match for Carver or his cousin Neal Cassada, who was also charged for Yarmolenko’s death but died the day before he was to go to trial.
Mumma took some time to speak to the judge to ask for clarity about his role in the hearing. The judge told her that he does not have the power to decide whether Carver is innocent, but he can drop the charges completely or rule that there be another trial.