Local News

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

Posted July 25, 2014 10:43 a.m. EDT
Updated July 25, 2014 11:49 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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