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Argument with frat brother preceded fatal I-85 crash

Posted October 7

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— A former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student was involved in a heated argument with a fraternity brother last year shortly before driving the wrong-way on Interstate 85 and colliding head-on with a car and killing three people, witnesses testified Friday.

Chandler Michael Kania, 21, of Asheboro, is on trial on three counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Felecia Harris, 49, her friend Darlene McGee, 46, both of Charlotte, and Harris' granddaughter, Jahnice Beard, 6, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Kania was headed north in the southbound lanes of I-85 near the Interstate 40 split in Orange County on July 19, 2015, when his Jeep Wrangler collided head on with Harris' Suzuki sedan. Harris' daughter, Jahnia King, 9, survived the wreck but was seriously injured.

Kania pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of felony death by motor vehicle and one count each of felony serious injury by motor vehicle, driving while impaired, driving the wrong way on an interstate, driving after consuming alcohol as a minor, possession of alcohol by a minor and having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle.

Case Aldridge, a UNC-Chapel Hill senior, said he was with Kania at He's Not Here bar in Chapel Hill until closing on the morning of the crash, and the two fought as they were walking back to the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house. Aldridge said Kania kept pushing him to get back together with his ex-girlfriend, which in turn could boost Kania's chances for a relationship with a friend of hers.

During their profanity-laced exchange, Kania said something that "crossed the line," prompting Aldridge to walk away and not talk to him anymore. Aldridge said he was drunk that night and now cannot remember specifically what was said.

Several witnesses testified Thursday that Kania had been drinking and smoking marijuana for much of the day before the crash.

Aldridge stormed past Aditya Shah, a UNC-Chapel Hill senior and another fraternity brother of Kania's, telling him, "Chandler is so selfish."

Shah testified that he then tried to stop Kania from driving off in anger when he had been drinking, but Kania threw him to the ground and climbed into his Jeep. Shah said he was able to snatch Kania's cellphone, thinking that might stop him, but Kania drove off "very aggressively," running over a curb as he sped away.

Aldridge and Shah both read from an exchange of text messages sent a short time after the argument.

"You clearly only care about yourself," Aldridge texted to Kania.

Shah, who by then had Kania's phone, texted back that Kania had driven off. "We tried to stop him. He was mad. You did this," Shah texted to Aldridge.

He said Friday that he regretted blaming Aldridge, saying Kania was responsible for his own actions.

Shah said he had been drinking that night, so he enlisted the help of Mason McConnell, another fraternity brother, to drive around searching for Kania. But they were unsuccessful.

McConnell testified that he had never seen Kania become belligerent or act out of control when he was drunk.

Aldridge said under cross-examination that he told state troopers the following morning that Kania's behavior that night was out of character for him and that Aldridge didn't think Kania was trying to hurt himself in the crash.

Shah will again be on the witness stand when the trial resumes Monday.


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  • Fred Holt Oct 7, 10:25 p.m.
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    Note that negative comments are being reviewed and removed for various reasons - so comments must be self moderated. The defendant here managed to fight off his friends in his frenzy to drunkenly drive over to the highway in order to kill a family. We're not supposed to know that all the evidence of such has been tried to be withheld from the jury, nor are we supposed to be hip to the fact that Chandler may well be pretty popular with the more dominant inmates there in the Penn. I'll repost as frequently as it is taken down. This is information, not crude talk

  • Mary Meadows Oct 7, 6:42 p.m.
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    Bill - just about every single friend of his that has testified has been granted immunity from criminal prosecution in regards to this case as I believe everyone with the exception of one was under the age of 21.

  • Bill Gibson Oct 7, 2:36 p.m.
    user avatar

    Should Alex Pugh be admitting, under oath, that he purchased beer for Kania? Wouldn't this be the time when Pugh starts repeating the phrase, "I cannot answer that on the grounds that it might tend to incriminate me." I bought this underage friend a bunch of beer, and later while intoxicated, he drove his vehicle into another car killing two adults and a child. *If you charge parents, who leave guns out, and their children get the gun and kill themselves, why in the world wouldn't you charge Pugh?

    Still, after all this, I don't think there is any way that they will prove malice, in the act.