The drop of the gavel Tuesday in Raleigh started a process that defense attorneys hope will overturn the life sentence of a convicted killer from Belmont.
It is now up to the seven members of the state Supreme Court to decide if Mark Carver's conviction in 2011 should stand.
Tuesday morning, Gordon Widenhouse, Carver's appeals attorney, told the judges that Carver had no reason to kill Ira Yarmolenko, a UNC Charlotte student who he did not know. Standing at a podium before the row of robed justices, Widenhouse said, "There is absolutely no evidence of motive in this case."
In 2008, jet-skiers found Yarmolenko's body next to her car on the banks of the Catawba River. She was strangled.
Mark Carver said he and his cousin, Neal Cassada, were fishing nearby.
Widenhouse asked members of the court, "If the defendant commits the crime, why in the world does he go right back over and start fishing?"
Both Carver and Cassada were charged with murder. Only Carver was convicted. Cassada died of a heart attack the day before his trial.
Carver's attorney said his client's DNA was not on the items used to strangle Yarmolenko.
Just after his arrest in 2008, Carver told Western Bureau Reporter Ken Lemon, "I didn't even go around the car."
Prosecutor Danielle Elder said officers found Carver's DNA on Yarmolenko's car. She told the judges, "When you leave evidence incriminating at the scene and you lie about it to investigators and say you weren't there, that's enough to go to a jury."
Eyewitness News went back and talked to Warren Newsome, one of the jurors who convicted Carver two years ago.
"Everybody's got their rights and you don't have a whole lot of rights after being convicted, but he's got the right to appeal,” he said.
Newsome believes the Supreme Court will reach the same conclusion that he did and keep Carver in prison.
“The evidence to me was pretty strong,” he said.
It could be a few weeks to three months before the court issues its ruling.