US man can face death penalty for killing three American Muslim students
A US man, who shot dead three American Muslim students in February, can face a death penalty trial, a judge ruled Monday.
Craig Stephen Hicks was charged with first-degree murder in the killing 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 on February 10 in an apartment near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.
During a brief hearing on Monday, the evidence against Hicks, 46, was disclosed and Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson Jr. ruled that he is “death penalty qualified.”
The weapon which Hicks was arrested with matched the shell casings recovered at the apartment based on ballistics, said Durham County Assistant District Attorney Jim Dornfried,
Police found gunshot residue on his hands and blood from one of the victim’s on his pants, prosecutors said.
The victims’ families strongly believe that they were targeted due to the fact that they were Muslims. They have demanded for hate-crime charges to be leveled against Hicks.
A lawyer for the family members said that “the family is just enormously sad and confused.”
Joe Cheshire said, “They are overwhelmed with grief. … You can’t find a person who would say something bad about those three young people.”
President Barack Obama condemned the “brutal and outrageous murders” of the Muslim students. “No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.”
Also, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his sadness over the murders but stopped short of condemning the incident.