Chapel Hill killer jailed for life for murdering three Muslim students in 2015

Craig Hicks in court.

A man who murdered three Muslim students near the University of North Carolina in 2015 has been jailed for life.

Craig Hicks shot dead newlyweds Deah Barakat, 23, and Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Yusor’s 19-year-old sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill four year ago.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and was given three life sentences.

Hicks was not charged with hate crimes, despite the victims’ families maintaining they were targeted for being Muslim.

Police said the killings were motivated by a disagreement over a parking space in front of their home in February 2015.

However, it was argued during Hicks’ trial that he singled out the three Muslim victims, and reacted violently because of implicit bias.

 

Victims from left to right: Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

Previously unseen phone footage of the shooting that was played to the court showed Hicks accosting Mr Barakat at his front door, accusing him of taking his parking space

In the video, Mr Barakat spoke to Hicks calmly, but the killer responded by opening fire, before shooting at the two sisters.

During the hearing last Wednesday, Hicks said he had wanted to plead guilty “on day one”.

US broadcaster CNN reported him as saying: “Here it is, four years, four months and two days later, and I’m finally here.”

Mr Barakat was a second-year dental student at UNC, while his wife Yusor had just been admitted to dental school as well.

Her sister Razan was a design student at North Carolina State University.

The murders sparked international outrage at the time, with millions of Muslims and non-Muslims on social media highlighting the Islamophobic motive of the killer.

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