Local News

Fights with friends could lead to longer sentence in wrong-way I-85 crash

Posted September 28, 2015 12:35 p.m. EDT
Updated September 28, 2015 2:25 p.m. EDT

Chandler Michael Kania appears in an Orange County courtroom on July 23, 2015, to face murder charges in a crash on Interstate 85 that killed three people.

— An Orange County grand jury on Tuesday indicted a former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student on a dozen charges in connection with a July crash on Interstate 85 that killed three people.

The grand jury also found an aggravating factor in the case, which could increase the sentence if Chandler Michael Kania is convicted.

Kania, 20, of Asheboro, was indicted on three counts each of second-degree murder and felony death by motor vehicle and one count each of felony serious injury by motor vehicle, driving while impaired, driving left of center, obtaining alcohol by a minor and underage consumption of alcohol as a minor.

State Highway Patrol troopers say Kania was driving north in the southbound lanes near the split of I-85 and Interstate 40 in Orange County on July 19 when his Jeep Wrangler collided with a Suzuki driven by Felecia Harris.

Harris, 49, of Charlotte, her friend Darlene McGee, 46, of Charlotte, and Harris' granddaughter Jahnice Beard, 6, of Brooklyn, N.Y., were killed in the fiery wreck. Harris' daughter, Jahnia King, 9, was seriously injured.

Tests showed that Kania had a blood-alcohol content of 0.17, which is more than twice the level at which a driver is considered impaired under North Carolina law. Separate tests also showed that he had marijuana in his system at the time of the crash.

Authorities said he used a fake ID to drink at two Chapel Hill bars that night and that he fought with people who tried to take his keys and prevent him from getting behind the wheel.

Those altercations led the grand jury to include the aggravating factor of "resisted the deterrence of others to commit offense" on Kania's indictment.

Kania is under house arrest awaiting trial.