Judge Orlando Hudson scheduled a hearing in the Craig Stephen Hicks case for Jan. 31 to weigh requests from the attorneys representing the 48-year-old man charged with killing three Muslim college students in the Chapel Hill shootings in 2015.
Hicks is accused of killing Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.
The killings occurred late in the afternoon of Feb. 10 at the Finley Forest condominium complex on the eastern edge of Chapel Hill. The shootings sparked a global debate about whether the motive was the escalation of a parking dispute or a hate crime.
As the two-year anniversary of the shooting deaths approaches, the court hearing later this month could provide a fuller picture of the evidence prosecutors have in the case. Hudson scheduled the hearing on Thursday during a routine hearing in which prosecutors and defense attorneys update the chief resident Superior Court judge on the status of homicide cases pending in Durham County.
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Hicks did not appear at the hearing. The scheduling was done quickly, with little comment.
Hicks, an unemployed community college student, lived in a second-story unit at 270 Summerwalk Circle in early 2015. His wife of seven years owned the condominium when they married. Police said Hicks, who had a stash of guns, was motivated to fire on the students because of a long-simmering parking dispute.
At a hearing in April 2015, a judge allowed prosecutors to pursue the death penalty against Hicks. During the hearing, Jim Dornfried, a Durham County assistant district attorney, argued that not only were the homicides committed in the act of another felony, but the nature of the shootings played into the decision to designate it a capital case.
On the afternoon of the shooting, Hicks went inside his home to retrieve a gun, then went to his neighbors’ door and had an exchange with Barakat.
“He pulled out his concealed firearm” and shot Barakat, Dornfried said, and a spray of gunfire followed.
The two women were in or near the kitchen, still alive, when Hicks shot them again in the head, Dornfried said. Hicks fired at Barakat again on the way out of the condominium, the prosecutor said.
Dornfried said DNA evidence showed that Yusor Abu-Salha’s blood was on the pants Hicks was wearing after he turned himself in to Chatham County law enforcement officers.
Investigators found eight spent shell casings inside the condominium.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi