It’s too early to know whether an Asheboro man will seek a jury trial in a triple-fatal, drunken-driving collision, attorneys said Tuesday at the Orange County Courthouse.
Chandler Michael Kania and his parents understand he “will certainly go to prison,” attorney Wade Smith said.
Kania, 20, faces three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of felony death by motor vehicle, driving while impaired and several other charges in the July 19 wreck in Orange County. He was at the hearing but did not speak.
Prosecutors could get a wreck reconstruction report from N.C. Highway Patrol investigators by December, Orange County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Nieman said. The case has been continued to Jan. 12.
“He’s doing the best he can,” attorney Roger Smith Jr. said when asked how Kania is doing. “He’s struggling every day with what’s happened here and just struggles with his thoughts about the victims’ families.”
Kania is accused of driving a Jeep Wrangler northbound in the southbound lanes of Interstate 85 until colliding with a Suzuki near the I-40 split, killing three people: Jahnice Baird, 6, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Felecia Harris, 49, and Darlene McGee, 46, both of Charlotte.
A 9-year-old child in the Suzuki survived.
Witnesses have told investigators that Kania drank alcohol at a party in Chapel Hill on July 18 before visiting He’s Not Here and La Residence restaurant, according to search warrants.
Kania’s blood-alcohol level the night of the accident was 0.17 – more than twice the state’s legal limit for someone 21 and older – and he had marijuana in his system, investigators said.
Kania is free on $1 million bail but is under house arrest and a curfew at his parents’ home in Asheboro. He was a rising UNC junior at the time of the wreck but is no longer enrolled.
The victims’ families have sued Kania, his parents and the two businesses. The state ABC Commission has asked He’s Not Here to surrender its alcohol permits and could consider a stiffer penalty than originally offered to La Residence at its Nov. 18 hearing.
He’s Not Here has asked the state for an administrative hearing in its case. The hearing has not been scheduled.
Kania’s mother hasn’t stopped crying since the wreck, Smith said.
“There’s nothing but sadness in this case,” he said, “and the hope would be that out of this horrible thing, perhaps (Kania) can at some point have a chance to live a life and maybe live it so that these victims would at least be honored by the things that he does.”