Crime

Hearing delayed for man accused of killing Muslim students in 2015

Murder defendant Craig Stephen Hicks sits quietly in Durham Criminal Superior Court during a hearing in April 2015.
Murder defendant Craig Stephen Hicks sits quietly in Durham Criminal Superior Court during a hearing in April 2015. hlynch@newsobserver.com

A hearing scheduled for Tuesday in the trial of a Chapel Hill man accused of killing three Muslim university students nearly two years ago has been delayed to a date uncertain, according to Durham County court officials.

Craig Hicks, 48, is accused of murdering Deah Shaddy Barakat and his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, at a Chapel Hill condominium complex on Feb. 10, 2015.

Police have said the shootings were over a long-running parking dispute between neighbors. Family of the victims – students at UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University – have suggested that religious bias played a prominent role in the violence.

Federal investigators opened an inquiry shortly after the homicides to determine whether to pursue a deeper investigation into the allegation of religious bias and the possibility of federal hate crimes. The results of that investigation have not been publicly released.

Hicks turned himself in to Chatham County law enforcement officers after the shootings and has been imprisoned since.

Attorneys are set to argue about computer evidence seized after the shootings, and what role any of the information will have for prosecutors and the defense team at a trial.

Durham County’s chief resident Superior Court Judge, Orlando Hudson, has presided over the hearings in the Hicks case, including the one originally scheduled for Tuesday. One of the prosecutor’s witnesses was unavailable for the hearing Tuesday, forcing Hudson to postpone it.

Hicks faces the possibility of being sentenced to death.

Anne Blythe: 919-836-4948, @AnneBlythe

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