Chapel Hill shootings: Prosecutors to seek death penalty against Craig Hicks if convicted of murder, say reports

The 46-year-old is charged with three counts of murder after last month's shooting

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The Independent US

Prosecutors in North Carolina will seek the death penalty against a man charged with the shooting deaths of three Muslim students, it has been reported.

The WTVD television channel said the Durham County District Attorney’s Office will seek this if defendant Craig Hicks, 46, who is charged with three counts of murder, is convicted. The prosecutors could not immediately be contacted on Monday.

Federal investigators are working to determine whether Mr Hicks' alleged shooting of the students was motivated by hatred toward the victims because of their religion.

Vigil for chapel hill.jpg
The shooting of three students in Chapel Hill has sparked vigils across the US, including one in Washington DC

Local police have said their initial investigation indicated a dispute over parking may have prompted the February 10 shooting. The father of the two young women who were killed has claimed the shooting was a hate crime.

Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, a University of North Carolina dental student; his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, a student at North Carolina State University, were killed in an apartment two miles from the campus.

The victims of the shooting, from left to right: Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19

President Barack Obama denounced their deaths as “brutal and outrageous murders” and said no one in the United States should be targeted for their religion.