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Judge grants new trial for man convicted of killing college student based on ineffective counsel, new DNA evidence

Seven years ago, Mark Carver was convicted of killing 20-year-old Ira Yarmolenko in Mount Holly.

A judge has granted a new trial for a man convicted of killing a UNC Charlotte student. The judge said a new trial was warranted due to ineffective counsel and new DNA evidence. 

Seven years ago, Mark Carver was convicted of killing 20-year-old Ira Yarmolenko in Mount Holly. 

The body of Yarmelnko was found along the banks of the Catawba River with her car nearby. Carver was sentenced to life in prison for her murder.

Before his trial, Carver spoke to NBC Charlotte in a rare jailhouse interview, claiming he was innocent. 

"I never seen her before in my life," he said.

But prosecutors said Carver's DNA was on Yarmalenko's car, and he was convicted. Attorneys for Carver said the DNA evidence was bad and asked for the conviction be thrown out.

Seven years later, Judge Chris Bragg said Carver received ineffective counsel from his original attorney Brent Ratchford.

The judge says, among other details, Ratchford failed to conduct an investigation into Carver's medical issues, which could've played a role in his defense, considering the victim Ira Yarmolenko was strangled.

The judge also says touch DNA evidence which led to Carver's conviction would now be deemed inconclusive based on current standards.

After the judge granted a new trial, Carver's attorney Chris Mumma was visibly relieved. 

"He's definitely innocent 100%," Mumma said. "I would put my career, anything I have on the fact that he's innocent."

After court, District Attorney Locke Bell says he will fight the judge's decision.

"I'm very disappointed in it," Bell said. "He's a very good judge. I respect the judge, but I'm very disappointed in it. I disagree with it and at the proper time we will appeal."

As for how Carver himself reacted to the news, Mumma says he had trouble understanding what was going on.

"He thought it was good, so he was happy when we said yes, it's good," Mumma said. "It's going to take some time."

Stay with NBC Charlotte for the latest on this developing story.

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