Durham County, NC (TFC) – Defendant Craig Stephens Hicks will face the death penalty for allegedly killing three Muslim Students this past February. Durham County Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson Jr ruled Hicks was “death penalty qualified” after an evidentiary showing during a preliminary hearing held yesterday.
As reported by this publication in February, three Muslim students were murdered allegedly by Hicks in what was reported as a continuing parking space dispute. The victims, 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 were killed near their residence located at Summerwalk Circle and Interstate 54 in Chapel Hill.
Durham County Assistant District Attorney Jim Dornfried told a judge they had strong and incriminating evidence that included blood from one of the victims found on the accused shooter’s pants and a .357-caliber handgun in Hicks’ possession when taken into custody, that ballistics testing had matched to the eight shell casings recovered at the victims’ apartment. Dornfried also stated that Hicks revealed details about the killings while under questioning by investigators.
The victims’ families are adamant that the three students were targeted because they were Muslims and have pushed for hate crime charges. Family members were present at the preliminary hearing and left without making any comments to the media. The FBI is conducting what it has called a “parallel preliminary inquiry” to the homicide investigation to determine whether any federal laws were violated, including hate crime statutes.
Hicks is being held at the State Prison in Raleigh while awaiting trial.
This is a continuing story.