Gaston County man serving life sentence for murder testifies for a chance at freedom

Carver testifies in effort for new trial

GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - It’s the day Mark Carver, his family, and many throughout the area have been waiting for. Carver who was convicted for the 2008 murder of a UNC Charlotte student, along the Catawba River, finally took the stand.

He’s fighting to either have the charges against him dropped or be granted a new trial.

Carver didn’t testify during his original trial at the advice of his defense team at the time. It took all of two minutes for the defense to question Mark Carver. His attorney, Chris Mumma, asked only 6 yes or no questions.

The first from Mumma was, “Did you see Ira Yarmolenko dead or alive on the Catawba River?”

Carver said, “No.”

The other questions were about Ira’s car. Carver told the court that the first time he saw the car was on the news, and that his original attorney in his 2011 murder trial tried to get him to say that he had touched the car – which is relevant because police had said they found Carver’s finger prints on Ira’s car during the investigation.

However, it should be noted that a former detective who worked this case testified last Friday that he didn’t find a DNA match for Carver.

When it comes to questions from the state. It’s a totally different story . The assistant DA spent 2 hours cross-examining Carver about his time on the river the day Ira died and what he told police. Carver took time to say he was confused and didn’t know how to answer some of the state’s questions.

Carver first said he heard a jet skier yell about finding a dead body and the state was quick to point out that Carver originally told officers that he heard two people scream. Information that could be found on a police report that Carver signed.

“They are grasping for straws. Inconsistencies with things that don’t matter and that is grasping for straws,” Mumma said outside of the courtroom.

Carver said he only signed on the dotted line because they told him to, but he didn’t know what he was doing

It’s been a long week of testimonies from both the state and the defense. The judge says closing arguments will start tomorrow and a decision will be made by the first of June.

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