Chapel Hill triple shooting suspect could face death penalty
Posted March 2, 2015
Durham, N.C. — 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.