Craig Stephen Hicks, the man charged with killing three Muslim college students, was granted a death penalty trial.
On February 19, Hicks was charged with the murder of Deah Shaddy Barakat and his 21-year-old wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, along with her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, who was 19 years old. He appeared before Durham County Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson on Tuesday.
The prosecution side has strong evidence to prove that Hicks was the murderer, producing before the court blood from one of the victims on Hicks’ pants. Judge Orlando Hudson Jr. has also confirmed that Hicks is qualified for the death penalty.
Hicks, who was present in the court during the trial, stood still and silent.
Durham County Assistant District Attorney Jim Dornfried said that gunshot residue was found on Hicks’ hands and eight shell casings matched with the shooter’s .357-caliber handgun.
During police interrogation, Hicks revealed what motivated him to carry out the crime: a long-standing confrontation over parking spaces at the condominium complex near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where Hicks lived with dental student Barakat and his wife.
“There were certain issues he described involving parking,” Dornfried told the judge. “He went and retrieved a firearm from his residence,
then proceeded over to the residence of the victims. … The door was answered by Deah Barakat. There was a brief interaction, at which time the defendant pulled out his concealed firearm.”
Dornfried told the court he had fired at Barakat several times before shooting the screaming women. Defense lawyer Terry Alford refused to speak when prosecutors asked for the possibility of a death penalty.
The victims’ family is satisfied with the court’s judgement and did not give out any comments. They said they were targeted because they were Muslims.
“The family is just enormously sad and confused,” said Joe Cheshire, the lawyer representing the victims’ families. “They are overwhelmed with grief. … You can’t find a person who would say something bad about those three young people.”
Hicks was described by his neighbors as an angry man who had frequently quarreled with other people over parking and playing loud music.