Local News

Jury Seated In Trial Of Man Charged In Fatal Hit-And-Run

Posted November 9, 2004

— Jury selection is complete in the trial of a man charged in connection with the hit-and-run death of a sports reporter at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Rabah Samara faces felony and misdemeanor hit-and-run charges for his role in the death of Stephen Gates. Gates was changing a flat tire on Interstate 40 on Oct. 4, 2003, when he was hit by a Cadillac Escalade.

Prosecutors said Emily Caveness was behind the wheel, but switched seats with Samara, who drove off. Caveness made a deal with the District Attorney's Office and is expected to testify against Samara.

Pat and George Gates, Stephen's parents, said they have waited for this day for a long time.

"Our family is devastated by what happened, just devastated, and there's no turning back to what we were before the death of our son," said Pat Gates.

Gates' parents plan to be in court every day as well as some of his friends.

"They've been through a lot and it's a way of showing them how much Steve meant to us," said Mark Cryan, Stephen's friend.

Gates' parents said they are looking for justice for their son, not revenge.

"One life is gone. Others are messed up and we don't want the same to happen to other people. It's simply having individuals take responsibility for what they did or should have done and didn't," George Gates said.

If convicted, Samara could get three to eight months in jail.

Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday. The trial is expected to last two or three days.

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