Bill Stetzer left the DA’s office in Gaston County in December to head the homicide team in Mecklenburg County.
But the 42-year-old veteran homicide prosecutor had some unfinished business in Gaston County – the prosecution of the man accused of murdering 20-year-old UNC Charlotte student Irina “Ira” Yarmolenko in 2008.
Stetzer, pictured above, returned to Gaston County this week to join Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Hamlin in handling the murder trial of Mark Bradley Carver.
“I worked two years on the case,” Stetzer told the Observer. “I established a relationship with the victim’s family. I didn’t think it was appropriate to walk out on the family or my co-counsel.”
Yarmolenko’s body was found beside her car on the banks of the Catawba River in Mount Holly, where authorities say she had gone to take photographs.
A bungee cord, ribbon and drawstring were around her neck. The autopsy concluded that asphyxia was the cause of death.
Carver and his cousin, Neal Leon Cassada Jr., were charged with killing Yarmolenko. Cassada died in October of apparent natural causes.
Prosecutors on Tuesday began presenting their evidence against Carver. The trial is expected to last less than two weeks.
Carver, 42, of Gastonia, faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. Gary L. Wright