A man who fatally shot his wife outside a Chapel Hill elementary school two and a half years ago will serve up to 42 years in prison.
Ali Cherfaoui, 51, was charged with first-degree murder in the 2012 shooting of Chahnaz Kebaier. Special Superior Court Judge Reuben Young sentenced him Monday to 24 to 30 years in prison on a charge of second-degree murder, part of four-part plea deal.
Cherfaoui had already pleaded guilty Oct. 14 to second-degree kidnapping and was sentenced to 41 months to 62 months in prison.
He also pleaded guilty in September to two additional charges: discharging a weapon on school property, receiving 23 months to 37 months in prison, and possession of a weapon on school property, which added eight to 19 months in prison.
Kebaier, 40, was killed May 25, 2012, while picking her children up from Scroggs Elementary School in Chapel Hill’s Southern Village community. Cherfaoui confronted her in the “kiss-and-go lane” and shot her multiple times in the face, prosecutor Michelle Hamilton said.
Kebaier died two hours later at UNC Hospitals. Cherfaoui fled and was arrested later.
The couple was involved in a divorce, custody and child support battle at the time of the shooting. The children now live in Tunisia with their maternal grandparents.
Since Cherfaoui does not have a prior criminal record, the district attorney’s office prosecuted each crime separately to give him more time in prison.
Cherfaoui could have faced life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder. Instead, he will serve between 30 years and nine months and 42 years and 10 months. He also will continue receiving mental health treatment for depression.
Defense attorney James Williams asked for and Chief Superior Court Judge Carl Fox has said he might recommend the state consider work release for Cherfaoui if an opportunity becomes available.
It is not unusual for judges to recommend work release, even for major crimes. State Department of Public Safety officials decide who gets work release, based on a judge’s recommendation and other factors, such as charges and time served.
The second-degree murder conviction could make Cherfaoui ineligible, Hamilton said.
Cherfaoui is being held in the Piedmont Correctional Institution, a medium-security state prison in Salisbury.