Jurors see crime scene photos in Yarmolenko murder trial

Irina Yarmolenko

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by RICHARD DEVAYNE / NewsChannel 36

Bio | Email | Follow: @richardwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on March 16, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 16 at 5:16 PM

GASTONIA, N.C. -- Jurors were shown crime scene photos during the second day of the murder trial for the man accused of killing 20-year-old Irina Yarmolenko.

Mark Carver faces life in prison if he is convicted of first-degree murder.

On Wednesday, a Mount Holly police detective described the investigation that led officers to arrest Carver and his cousin, Neal Cassada, who died of a heart attack while awaiting trial.

Detective William Terry showed jurors photographs of the crime scene along the Catawba River where Yarmolenko was found dead beside her car in 2008.

Prosecutors contend that Carver and Cassada strangled the UNC Charlotte student with a bungee cord and strings from her hooded sweatshirt.

"This is a picture of her hand. You can see she is grasping on one of the binds," Terry said.

Terry showed jurors photos of the bungee cord that was removed from Yarmolenko's neck. Yarmolenko's brother, Pavel, cried as the detective described how his sister looked when officers found her.

"Her head was back toward the embankment. Her feet were near the river underneath some brush. At closer inspection she was actually holding some of that brush in her hand," Terry said.

Carver has said that he and Cassada were in the area fishing on the day Yarmolenko was killed, but he denies any involvement in her death.

Terry said that he saw Carver placing fishing equipment in his car when officers arrived at the scene. Terry also said that Carver's location was about a 30-second drive from where Yarmolenko was found.

During the first day of trial, the jet skier who found Yarmolenko's body testified.

Terry said Wednesday that Carver told detectives that he heard a man curse and then heard a man say, "There's a dead body over here."

Prosecutors say Carver's DNA was found on Yarmolenko's car. According to Terry's testimony Wednesday, Carver denied touching Yarmolenko's car "dozens of times" during the interview, and later Carver told investigators that the "didn't know why it (DNA) was there."

Terry also said that Carver cooperated with investigators, agreed to give a DNA sample and never refused to answer questions.

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