Local News

Chapel Hill triple shooting suspect could face death penalty

Posted March 2, 2015

— Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols says he plans to seek the death penalty against a man accused of killing three people at a condominium complex near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, of 270 Summerwalk Circle, Chapel Hill, faces three counts of first-degree murder in the Feb. 10 shooting deaths of his neighbors Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, and his wife, Yusor Mohammad, 21, as well as her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

Police have said an ongoing dispute over parking appears to be a motive for the crime, but local and federal investigators have not ruled out other possible motives, including religious bias. The victims were Muslim, and Hicks is an atheist.

Echols did not say what factors led to pursue the death penalty. Generally, however, several aggravating circumstances could warrant a crime being tried capitally.

According to new search warrants in the case, Hicks kept photos and detailed notes on parking activity at the Finley Forest complex. Other neighbors have described him as being angry and combative over parking because residents are allotted one reserved spot.

Family members of the victims, however, have said that they were afraid of a neighbor who they thought did not like them because of the way they looked.

Barakat was a second-year dental student at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Yusor Abu-Salha was scheduled to begin dental school there in the fall.

She graduated last year from North Carolina State University, where Razan Abu-Salha was a sophomore.

The victims' families declined comment regarding Echols' decision. They plan to meet with the district attorney this week.

Although the shooting occurred in Chapel Hill, the Durham County District Attorney's Office is prosecuting the case since the address of the crime is in Durham County.


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  • Mike C Mar 3, 2015
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    Unfortunately, in North Carolina the 'death penalty' and 'life, without parole' are the same thing since North Carolina no longer enforces the death penalty. That is unless it is abortion of an unborn.
    Maybe, instead of giving someone the 'death penalty' they should sentence them to a post natal abortion then maybe the actual sentence would be carried out.

  • Chris Holder Mar 3, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    No, I'm pretty sure people who are against the death penalty (me included) are against it in all cases... I suppose if someone killed someone they know, they might lash out and change their minds, but otherwise...

  • Alexia Proper Mar 3, 2015
    user avatar

    The death penalty in this case is not right. The man lost his temper and killed people. That's very different than one who kills even one person with forethought.

    I think the DA is allowing emotions to rule. Very bad precedent to set.

  • Steven Cousler Mar 2, 2015
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    He doesn't deserve a fair trial or any sympathy - he deserves a quick conviction and hanging. He will get a fair trial because this is the United States and we may have to wait years for the death sentence to be carried out, because this is NC and our death row inmates seem to average 20 years or more there before executed if they ever are. Not fair to the victims - but that's our law.

  • Stan Simmerson Mar 2, 2015
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    Maybe his anger was pushed over the edge when, expecting cold weather, his wife gave him a turtleneck sweater.

  • Uragoner Too Mar 2, 2015
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    you mean, SHOULD face the death penalty

  • Anne Havisham Mar 2, 2015
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    I don't know that anyone can calculate what was taken from the human race when these three enthusiastic, productive, generous young people were killed.

    Executing their killer can not bring them back, nor in any way will it right that wrong.

    It seems to me that killing their (alleged) killer does nothing more than make the state a murderer, too.

  • Alice Toklas Mar 2, 2015
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    That's rather an ironic statement considering the perpetrator is an atheist not likely to subscribe to such a mythological place.

  • Judy Fergerson Mar 2, 2015
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    what is the death penalty theses days, NC has not put anyone to death in many years Therefore this man will be in jail for the rest of his life.

  • Sherrill Craig Mar 2, 2015
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    COULD get the death penalty...I would think that is a foregone conclusion at this point.