Updated: 5:44 p.m. Monday, March 21, 2011 | Posted: 11:45 a.m. Monday, March 21, 2011
Man Found Guilty In UNCC Student’s Murder
GASTON COUNTY, N.C. —
A jury found Mark Carver guilty of first-degree murder in the 2008 killing of a local college student.
Carver was convicted in the death of 20-year-old Ira Yarmolenko, a UNC Charlotte student who was found dead near the banks of the Catawba River. Investigators said she was strangled.
He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Jurors began deliberating at about 1:30 p.m. Friday after hearing closing arguments. They reached a verdict shortly before noon on Monday.
Yarmolenko's brother, Paval, thanked the jury after the verdict was announced. After the hearing, he also thanked the District Attorney’s Office.
“Justice was done here,” he said.
Carver’s trial began last Monday. He has said he is innocent. Forensic experts testified that his DNA was found on Yarmolenko's car but not on the drawstring, ribbon and bungee cord used to strangle her.
A disappointed defense attorney said he wanted to ask jurors one question.
“What trial were you at? Because the evidence was not there,” Brent Ratchford said.
Carver’s family said they felt the jury reached the wrong verdict.
“These people did not do it and there is a murderer still on the loose,” relative Leslie Sellars said.
Juror Warren Newsom told Channel 9 that from the beginning, only one juror thought Carver was innocent.
“I feel like it was a just verdict,” Newsom said. “I feel like it was the only verdict we could arrive at.”
He said one deciding moment happened when an investigator testified about something Carver told police.
“(Carver) said that she came up to him, about right here,” Detective William Terry with the Mount Holly Police Department said during the trial.
“The only way you could know that is to see someone in person,” Newsom said.
Carver’s cousin, Neal Cassada, was also charged in the case. Cassada's trial came up first, but he suffered a heart attack and died on the eve of his trial. An autopsy showed he died of complications from heart disease.