In US Man who killed 3 Muslim university students could get the death penalty

Hicks is charged with 3 counts of first-degree murder in the February 10 killings of 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife and sister-in-law.

  • Published:
play The victims' family (Al Jazeera)
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Craig Stephen Hicks, the man charged with killing 3 Muslim university students in North Carolina could be sentenced to death if found guilty of the deaths.

According to Al Jazeera, prosecutors told a judge they had strong and incriminating evidence that includes blood from one of the victims found on the accused shooter's pants and after a brief hearing on Monday, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson Jr. ruled that Hicks is "death penalty qualified".

Hicks is charged with 3 counts of first-degree murder in the February 10 killings of 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and her sister, 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

Police have said that the 46-year old appeared to have been motivated by a long-running dispute over parking spaces at the condominium complex near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he lived in the same building as the deceased dental student Barakat and his wife.

Durham County Assistant District Attorney Jim Dornfried also said  that Hicks had revealed details about the killings while under questioning by investigators adding that  Hicks was taken into custody while in possession of a .357-caliber handgun that ballistics testing had matched to the eight shell casings recovered at the victims' apartment.

Meanwhile, the victims' families are adamant that they were targeted because they were Muslims and have pushed for hate-crime charges.

Prosecutors will have to show Hicks' alleged crimes had aggravating factors in order to support the death penalty under North Carolina law. Hicks is being held at a state prison in Raleigh pending trial.

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