Mark Carver was convicted in 2011 for the murder of UNC student, Ira Yarmolenko. Yarmolenko’s body was found near her car, at the bottom of a steep embankment at the Catawba River in Gaston County, North Carolina. Carver was fishing nearby with his cousin, Neal Cassada.
Evidence used to convict Carver was “touch DNA”, a mixed sample. Reports are now indicating that this type of evidence is unreliable, and can even be the result of secondary transfer. The vehicle which was swabbed for DNA was also contaminated as several police officers touched the vehicle during the investigation.
The North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence who is representing Carver requested DNA reports that were never shared with the defense, as well as additional DNA testing. The judge is allowing it.
Aside from the DNA, there was no other evidence linking the men to the crime. It is frightening that people can be convicted with nothing but flimsy evidence. Hopefully this new testing will finally free Mark Carver.
The Charlotte Observer has been covering the story.