GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - The man convicted of killing UNC Charlotte student Ira Yarmolenko in 2008 has been released after spending 10 years in prison.
Mark Carver, who has maintained his innocence, posted bond Tuesday afternoon. He walked out of the jail to cheers and hugs from family, friends and his lawyer who were all waiting outside.
Carver told reporters “I know didn’t do anything... I’m innocent." He added that it felt “great” when the doors finally opened.
Last week, a judge granted Carver a new trial based on ineffective counsel and new DNA evidence.
Carver has spent the last decade behind bars on accusations of strangling 20-year-old Yarmolenka to death.
Carver’s lawyer, Chris Mumma, believes Carver was locked away because his former attorneys did a bad job during the 2011 murder trial. Mumma doubts the DNA evidence and says Carver’s mental and physical abilities limit him from carrying out such a crime.
Mumma spoke, with Carver by her side, after his release on Tuesday. She said the most important thing moving forward is to prove Carver’s innocence and find the real murderer so Yarmolenka can finally get justice.
“We feel for her,” Mumma said. “Solving the murder is important for Mark but also very important for her family.”
“The more we looked at it, the more we saw. It was one problem with the evidence after another and it doesn’t stop with the DNA," Mumma added. "There’s no evidence left in this case. All the evidence that was used – that was false evidence used at trial to convict him has been decimated – there’s nothing left.”
The state says all the proof they need is in the DNA.
Officials have said that in May 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 that they found Carver’s fingerprints on the outside of Yarmolenko’s car.
However, through new testimony from a detective who collected the DNA, a match of Carver’s DNA was never found.
Carver took the stand for the first time in April, maintaining his innocence. He never had the chance to do so during his original trial because his former attorneys thought it would do more harm than good.
Carver’s new defense team says there was a lot of evidence that went untested and could have cleared his name.