A man who is charged with fatally shooting his estranged wife outside a Chapel Hill elementary school two years ago could serve 30 to 42 years in prison.
Ali Cherfaoui is charged with first-degree murder in the 2012 shooting of Chahnaz Kebaier. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to discharging a weapon on school property and was sentenced for that crime to 23 months to 37 months in prison.
He also pleaded guilty Sept. 2 to possession of a weapon on school property and was sentenced to an additional eight to 19 months in prison.
The pleas are part of a four-phase plea bargain with the district attorney’s office. Cherfaoui, 51, is expected to appear in Orange County Superior Court two more times this fall to plead guilty to second-degree kidnapping and second-degree murder charges.
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He could have faced life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder. Instead, the plea agreement on all four charges could put him there for 30 years and nine months to 42 years and 10 months.
Cherfaoui’s next scheduled court date is Oct. 14.
Assistant District Attorney Michelle Hamilton said Kebaier was with her children at Scroggs Elementary School in Southern Village on May 25, 2012, when Cherfaoui parked his car behind her car. He got out when Kebaier came out of the school and confronted her in the “kiss-and-go lane” with a .44-caliber Charter Arms Bulldog revolver.
Kebaier, 40, was shot several times and died two hours later at UNC Hospitals. The gun was empty when police arrived, Hamilton said. Cherfaoui, who had fled the scene, was arrested a short time later. He remains in the Orange County Jail.
Cherfaoui’s actions that day “created a great risk of death” to many people, Superior Court Judge Carl Fox said, and he also took advantage of Kebaier’s trust and confidence.
The couple was involved in a divorce, custody and child support battle at the time of the shooting. Kebaier had filed a domestic violence protective order that kept Cherfaoui from seeing his children. A judge upheld that order in 2012, barring Cherfaoui from contacting the children or his estranged wife’s family.
The children now live in Tunisia with their maternal grandparents, who have permanent guardianship.
Defense attorney James Williams declined to discuss the case but told the judge he wants to find the right place for Cherfaoui to serve his time.
“I know that he wishes to be in a facility where he can utilize his skills and his education,” Williams said. “I don’t exactly how to put that in the form of a recommendation right now.”