The man charged with killing three Muslim college students will face a death penalty trial after prosecutors told a judge they had strong and incriminating evidence that includes the blood from one of the victims found on the accused shooter's pants.
After a brief hearing Monday, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson Jr. ruled that Craig Stephen Hicks is "death penalty qualified."
Hicks, who remained handcuffed throughout the court proceedings, showed no visible emotion as the judge announced his decision.
He is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the Feb. 10 killings of 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat; his wife, 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha; and her sister, 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.
Durham County Assistant District Attorney Jim Dornfried said at the preliminary hearing that Hicks was taken into custody while in possession of a .357-caliber handgun that ballistics testing had matched to the eight shell casings recovered at the victims' apartment.
There was also gunshot residue on Hicks' hands.
Police have said Hicks, 46, appeared to have been motivated by a long-running dispute over parking spaces at the condominium complex near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he lived in the same building as dental student Barakat and his wife. (AL-Arabiya)