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Jury to decide if former UNC-CH student guilty of murder in fatal crash

Posted October 13, 2016

Chandler Michael Kania listens to testimony in his second-degree murder trial on Oct. 7, 2016. Kania is accused of acting with malice in a July 2015 head-on collision on Interstate 85 that killed two women and a child.

— Jurors deliberated for than two hours Thursday afternoon without reaching a verdict on whether a former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student is guilty of murder for driving the wrong-way on Interstate 85 last year and killing three people in a head-on collision.

Chandler Michael Kania, 21, of Asheboro, is charged with 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 last week 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.

But his attorneys, who put up no evidence during the week-long trial, have argued that the case is merely a drunken driving case that doesn't rise to the level of murder.

Witnesses for the prosecution said Kania was drinking and smoking marijuana throughout the day and night before the crash, and Orange County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Nieman introduced evidence to suggest Kania also texted while driving on occasion.

Kania was in a heated argument with a fraternity brother and then fought with two friends who tried to stop him from getting behind the wheel, throwing one to the ground, according to testimony.

To convict Kania of second-degree murder, prosecutors must show that he acted with malice in the collision. Deliberations will continue Friday morning.


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  • Fred Garner Oct 14, 2016
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    Punishment SHOULD fit the crime BUT since no one has suffered the death penalty in decades let's settle for LIFE imprisonment.

  • Paul Maxwell Oct 13, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    He entered a lot of 'guilty' pleas last week, for serious offenses. I'm thinking at least 20. Whatever the outcome, he's certainly ruined his own life, his parents' lives, and those of some total strangers. One hopes that his peers will take a lesson from Mr. Kania's poor choices and re-assess their own priorities.

  • Mark Cooper Oct 13, 2016
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    While I wish it was I do not see it as text book. Malice includes intent. They are trying to prove intent via "total disregard for others well being" and that is SO broad in the legal sense. I bet the argument boils down to... Was the night one long singular act therefore he did disregard others well being by his decisions... but if they say the night was a series of separate acts (I bet the defense argued separate acts) then he did not have the capacity to make the decision on the final act when he got in the car. Fighting with friends would actually demonstrates his lack of capacity if seen as separate acts.

    He needs to go to jail but there is an entire TV series now called "Rich and Acquitted" so ............. yuk

  • Thomas White Oct 13, 2016
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    I would bet 4 years or under in jail.

  • Aiden Audric Oct 13, 2016
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    Got high.
    Got drunk using fake IDs.
    Fighting with friends.
    Driving the wrong way.
    Three people dead.

    We all - every single one of us - knows drugs + alcohol + temper + car = dead people. He knew what he was doing with complete indifference to others. Fighting with his friends sealed his state of mind.

    I think that constitutes 'textbook unlawful killing with malice'... like those textbooks he should have had his face in instead of the drugs, alcohol, bars and car.