New info in the Yarmolenko case revealed in court

Published: Feb. 3, 2009 at 3:24 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 10, 2009 at 3:12 AM EST
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GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - Defense lawyers in the murder case of Ira Yarmolenko are already laying the grounds for reasonable doubt.

In a startling courtroom twist, they read the alleged jailhouse confession of a man who's not even charged in the case.

Cousins Mark Carver and Neal Cassada are charged with killing Yarmolenko.

The UNC Charlotte student's body was found last May on the banks of the Catawba River.

But their lawyers want the men released on bond.

Their ace in the hole is this letter from an inmate in the Mecklenburg County jail.

In it, he admits strangling the 20-year old after an all night cocaine binge.

Graphic testimony read today in a Gaston County Courtroom. Cousins Neal Cassada and Mark Carver are accused of murdering UNCC student Ira Yarmolenko last May. Her body was found on the banks of the Catawba river lying next to her car.

Cassada and Carver have been in jail since December 11th their DNA was allegedly found in Yarmolenko's car but defense attorneys say they never killed the girl.

"There is no evidence that ties them to that body outside the car."

Cassada is said to have passed a polygraph test which his attorney says proves he never killed Yarmolenko.

Carver stuck around near the crime scene even hours after the students body was found.

"Common sense would tell you he'd flee the scene yet he was still there."

The cousins say they were fishing in the area and have nothing to do with the murder to top it all off Cassada's defense attorney David Phillips offered up this.

"There's been a confession from a person in the Mecklenburg County Jail."

A 37 year old man locked up May 21st for allegedly raping a woman just 16 days after Yarmolenko was killed.

The alleged rapist wrote a letter from jail according to Phillips saying he and some friends killed the student. He read part of the alleged confession.

"We started smoking crack once we ran out of money and dope we looked for a lick to make Ms. Yarmolenko became the victim."

The man went on to say he cant sleep at night because of the murder. Between the polygraph and the alleged confession some would argue this offers up more than a reasonable doubt.

The judge says he'll take a look at all of the evidence and then make a decision on whether to lower Cassada and Carver's bond from 1-million dollars later this week.