Gastonia Murder Verdict Raises Questions Regarding Burden Of Proof

Posted by Christopher Shumate | Dec 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

On March 21, 2001, A Gaston County Jury convicted Mark Carver of the 2008 first-degree murder of Irina Yarmolenko, which occurred near the Catawba River. Ms. Yarmolenko was a UNC Charlotte student who went to the river to shoot photos of kayakers on the day in question. According to Mr. Carver, he was fishing in the area with his cousin, Neal Cassada that day. Mr. Cassada, who was also charged with the crime, died last year a day before his trial was to begin.

Mr. Carver was represented by David Phillips and Brent Ratchford. The key evidence in the trial was DNA evidence from the Defendant that was present on Ms. Yarmolenko's vehicle. Notably, Mr. Carver's DNA was not present on the victim's body or on the bindings used to kill her. Her body was discovered near the vehicle.

The prosecution suggested to the jury that the Defendant attacked Ms. Yarmolenko because she photographed him doing something he didn't want revealed. The prosecution also questioned the Defendant's prior statement that he had never seen Ms. Yarmolenko, which seemed contradicted by the presence of his DNA on her vehicle. The defense suggested that Ms. Yarmolenko may have committed suicide.

The jury only deliberated six hours before returning the guilty verdict. Some have questioned defense counsel's strategy of presenting no witnesses. Mr. Ratchford responded "I think they wanted to find someone responsible for the murder," he said. "And my client was the one in the courtroom." Mr. Ratchford noted the State has the burden of proving the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. He felt the State's case was weak.

About the Author

Christopher Shumate

Mr. Chris Shumate is a native of Gastonia, North Carolina, and worked various jobs while pursuing his undergraduate and Juris Doctor education, including several heavy manual labor and skilled trade positions. In his practice, Mr. Shumate often encounters circumstances where these prior experiences are helpful in representing you. Upon graduating law school from the University of South Carolina, Mr. Shumate joined one of the Carolinas' larger defense firms, where he represented a diverse set of employers and insurance companies in civil cases and workers' compensation claims across the Carolinas. Chris utilized this experience to obtain a working knowledge of the insurance industry, and build personal contacts used today in representing you. Mr. Shumate ultimately decided he wanted to focus his law practice on assisting those who have been injured, and doing so with the focus on a personal relationship that is uncommon in the bigger firms. Mr. Shumate's also has a passion for assisting those facing the challenges of the criminal legal system. By representing individuals in a variety of criminal and traffic matters, Mr. Shumate works to achieve the best possible result for each client regardless of the charges levied by the prosecution. Chris has tirelessly pursued his mission of helping people from all walks of life throughout the Carolinas with a variety of legal matters. If you are interested in learning more about Chris Shumate and The Shumate Law Offices, please contact us at 704.371.5059. We look forward to assisting you to achieve a positive result in your legal concern. Education J.D., University of South Carolina B.S., University of South Carolina Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice N.C. State BarS.C. State BarU.S. District Court Western District of North Carolina Professional & Bar Association Memberships N.C. Bar Association S.C. Bar Association Mecklenburg County Bar N.C. Academy Of Trial Lawyers American Association For Justice


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