The man accused of killing three Muslim college students in Chapel Hill two years ago made a brief appearance in Durham County Superior Court on Tuesday while his attorneys argued for access to four pages of notes made by an FBI investigator.
Craig Hicks, noticeably thinner than he was two years ago shortly after his arrest, only spoke quietly with his lawyers during the brief update in front of Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson. The hearing took less than 15 minutes.
Steve Freedman, the capital defense attorney representing Hicks, told Hudson at the start of the hearing that prosecutors and the defense team had worked out most of their issues outside the courtroom.
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 made public.
Hicks turned himself in to Chatham County law enforcement officers after the shootings and has been imprisoned since.
Attorneys were set to argue Tuesday 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.
Hudson, at the request of Freedman, ordered the FBI notes to be turned over to the defense team.
Neither side revealed what agreements had been reached before the appearance in front of Hudson. The attorneys declined to elaborate afterward for reporters waiting for them outside the courtroom.