A North Carolina district attorney’s office will seek the death penalty against a man indicted in the shooting deaths of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill last month, television station WTVD reported on Monday.
Craig Hicks, 46, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of a newlywed couple who were his neighbors and the wife’s sister at a condominium complex, killings that drew international attention.
Federal investigators are working to determine whether Hicks, a paralegal student, was motivated by hatred toward the victims because of their religion. Local police have said their initial investigation indicated a dispute over parking may have prompted the Feb. 10 shooting.
The Durham County District Attorney’s Office could not be immediately reached for comment on Monday about plans to pursue the death penalty against Hicks should he be convicted.
WTVD tweeted a photo of the office’s notice of intent to seek the death penalty, which was dated Feb. 25.
Newlywed Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, a University of North Carolina dental student; his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, a student at North Carolina State University, were killed in a condo about two miles (three km) from the UNC campus in Chapel Hill.
President Barack Obama denounced their deaths as “brutal and outrageous murders” and said no one in the United States should be targeted for their religion.
(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bill Trott)