Local News

Judge allows testimony of prior actions by man charged in UNC professor's death

Posted March 1

Derick Davis II, left, Troy Arrington Jr.

— More than two years after a University of North Carolina professor was beaten to death during a mugging near the Chapel Hill campus, one of the two men charged with his death is set to go on trial next week.

Feng Liu, 59, a research professor in UNC's Eshelman School of Pharmacy, was taking a lunchtime walk on July 23, 2014, when he was beaten with a rock and robbed near the intersection of Ransom Street and West University Drive, police said. He died the following day at UNC Hospitals.

Troy Arrington Jr., 27, of Johnson Street in Chapel Hill, and Derick Davis II, 23, of Scots Pine Crossing in Durham, are charged with first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon in the case.

Jury selection in Arrington's trial is set to begin next Tuesday, and a judge on Wednesday said jurors could hear about a similar incident in Arrington's past. Years ago, two Orange County deputies saw Arrington pick up a large rock to hit someone with during an argument.

Defense attorneys argued the testimony would be prejudicial, but a Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour denied their motion to exclude the testimony. The judge also denied a defense motion to keep jurors from seeing some of Liu's autopsy photos.

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