Local News

Pair charged in UNC professor's death recently released from jail

Posted July 25, 2014

— One of the men accused of beating a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor to death on a street near campus was wearing an electric monitor on his ankle at the time of the crime, authorities said Friday. 

Feng Liu, 59, of Durham, was taking a lunchtime walk near the UNC campus when he was beaten and robbed near the intersection of Ransom Street and West University Drive, police said. He died early Thursday at UNC Hospitals.

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

In addition to noting that "a landscape stone" was used to beat Liu about the head, the arrest warrants state that Davis and Arrington stole Liu's wallet and four credit cards.

Several passersby found Liu in the street after the attack, and someone who called 911 said he was bleeding from his nose and ears and had difficulty breathing.

The 911 caller also reported seeing two men who were acting suspicious. Police used that witness' description apprehend Davis and Arrington.

"That first caller's information was vital in us starting to put those pieces together," said Lt. Josh Mecimore of the Chapel Hill Police Department.

Police said they have no reason to believe that Liu was targeted by his attackers.

Davis was released from the Wake County jail on Tuesday after serving three weeks on a June 28 shoplifting charge, according to the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

Likewise, Arrington was released recently from jail. He posted a $5,000 bond on July 2 after spending 10 months in the Durham County jail in connection with an August 2013 residential burglary in which a dog was stolen.

The Durham County Criminal Justice Resources Center issued a statement Friday that Arrington complied with all of his release restrictions before his arrest. When he was taken into custody, officials said, he was wearing the monitor on his ankle that tracked his whereabouts only between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. – but not at the time Liu was attacked.

Both men have lengthy criminal records. Arrington has been convicted of various assault, fraud, drug and weapon charges, while Davis has been convicted of burglary, larceny, possession of stolen goods and assault, according to court records.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said state habitual offender laws no longer allow prosecutors to seek lengthy sentences for people with prior convictions on the types of charges Arrington and Davis have on their records.

Liu was a research professor in UNC's Eshelman School of Pharmacy for the last decade, working to development cancer treatments.

Counselors were on the Chapel Hill campus on Friday to help students, faculty and staff cope with his death.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • kermit60 Jul 28, 2014

    The truly sad part about this is that it is nothing new.

  • dirtydozen431 Jul 25, 2014

    Killing on the streets of Chapel Hill during the week in the middle of the day. None of us are safe.

  • jonara Jul 25, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Simple question. Here is the simple answer.
    The European Oligarchs figured out long ago that the only way to take down America is from within. Policies like the war on drugs (actually a war on Americans) are a shining example of this effort to destroy us from within.
    Riddle me this. Our fellow Americans in Detroit have had their water turned off in the middle of the summer. There is no effort by our DC gummint to do anything to help our fellow Americans in Detroit. Yet, somehow our congress has another 500 million dollars to give to Israel for the Iron dome farce. That's on top of the 3 billion a year we give to this nation that is the size of Delaware.
    Don't re-elect anybody. Not even your own mother.

  • Reggie Berryman Jul 25, 2014
    user avatar

    Your Honor I know they committed a terrible crime and they both have extensive criminal records, but this is the first time they killed someone! With that in mind and their poor up bringing...I ask the court for leniency so they can eventually live a productive life!

    -Public Defender

    Leniency will granted for time served and five years probation.

    - Judge

  • Justin Bridges Jul 25, 2014
    user avatar

    I'm not pro-drugs in any way, but why are our prisons full of people who are on small time drug charges and people guilty of assaults and other physically violent crimes are walking on the streets. Prisons are meant to protect us from VIOLENT criminals. The violent criminals should be put there and for substantially long sentences. Let the non-violent criminals perform hundreds of hour of community service to keep our streets and our parks clean, pick up roadside trash, etc.

  • lovetheheels Jul 25, 2014

    When will we ever learn...you just can't fix evil.

  • LoveFraz Jul 25, 2014

    People are FURIOUS and we should be. That is why comments are being censored. This absolutely cuts to the heart of anyone with a soul or conscience, because those of us that have them can't wrap our minds around what happened to this poor man taking a walk at lunchtime on beautiful summer day just enjoying his life. People can't hold back with the disgust in our guts for these two. I think it should be shared. We need to get angry!!

  • Paul Hill Jul 25, 2014
    user avatar

    "Public stoning ? Wow. To heck with the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment." JE

    There's some tweaks that need to be considered in the Constitution. That would be a good place to start. I was in Durrah_Beach, Saudi Arabia a few years ago. Had a handless fellow shine my shoes. He got caught stealing and lost a hand as punishment. He spoke Jeddah and my my girlfriend did too. He said that he would never steal again. He also said that he was poor and lived amongst lots of criminals. Not many of them, after being caught, were repeat offenders.

  • B.c. Jimmy Jul 25, 2014
    user avatar

    It is a brutal world. I recently attended grand jury. I found myself in an elevator 30 minutes later with members of the grand jury. They were all quiet. I remarked that they were probably unaware of the volume of crime in Wake County prior to their service on the jury. They all agreed and one remarked the level of violence was very disturbing. I can only presume both suspects are from single parent families and neither has a high school diploma.

  • 68_dodge_polara Jul 25, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I noticed an awful lot of the same today.