Attorney seeks evidence used to convict Gaston County man of killing college student
GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - Lawyers representing Mark Carver will be in court Thursday in an attempt to see evidence they say will help prove their client's innocence. Carver was convicted of first degree murder in the strangulation of UNC Charlotte student Ira Yarmolenko in 2008. The young woman was found along the banks of the Catawba River in Gaston County.
Neal Cassada and Mark Carver, who were fishing near the crime scene, were arrested and charged with the killing. Cassada died before trial. Carver was convicted in large part because of DNA evidence found at the scene.
"I think the DNA evidence was completely misrepresented at his trial," said Chris Mumma, executive director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence. "And there is no DNA evidence that identifies Mr. Carver with this case."
A judge agreed back in December to take another look at the evidence used to convict Carver, but Mumma said the state isn't turning over electronic data from the state lab that did the DNA testing. She also says documents are missing from the investigators' prosecutorial file. Mumma has filed a motion asking a judge to compel the state to hand the information over.
"We have requested numerous pieces of evidence from the district attorney's office and we have not been provided that evidence," said Mumma. "We believe that we are entitled to that evidence by law so tomorrow is to clarify this obligation."
Gaston County District Attorney did not respond to WBTV News' request for comment. In an interview done in January 2016, he was adamant the right man was convicted of the crime.
"I have no doubt whatsoever," said Bell. "(Investigators spent) several thousand hours of looking at every single person, and everything kept coming back to them (Carver and Cassada)."
Mumma says she is convinced Carver is innocent and she believes she has the evidence to prove it.
"Mr. Bell feels very strongly that Mr.Carver is guilty and so his feeling is he doesn't really have a reason to cooperate," said Mumma. "He believes justice was served, we don't believe justice was served and certainly justice should be the mutual goal."
The hearing on the motion to gain access to the Carver case evidence will be heard tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the Gaston County Courthouse.
Copyright 2017 WBTV. All rights reserved.