North Carolina man sentenced to life after pleading guilty to 2015 murders of 3 Muslim college students

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A North Carolina man has been sentenced Wednesday to three terms of life in prison for shooting and killing three of his neighbors, all Muslim students, in the college town of Chapel Hill in 2015.

Craig Hicks pleaded guilty earlier Wednesday in a Durham County courtroom to three counts of first-degree murder for the killings of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; Barakat’s wife, Yusor Mohammad, 21; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. He also pleaded guilty to discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling, for which he was sentenced to an additional 64 to 89 months.

Police said Hicks shot the three in February 2015 at an apartment near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Police said the shooting appeared to stem from a parking dispute.

Hicks was not charged with a hate crime. That incensed the victims’ relatives, who alleged Hicks had taunted the victims previously and did not accept Hicks shot them only over a parking space.

During Wednesday’s court proceeding, Hicks said he was not satisfied with his attorneys, because he wanted to plead guilty long ago.

“I wanted to plead guilty on day one,” Hicks said. “Here it is, four years, four months and two days later, and I’m finally here.”

Barakat was a second-year student at the UNC dental school.

Yusor was preparing to follow in her husband’s footsteps at the dental school and had just received her letter of admission.

Razan was an aspiring student of design and architecture.

Hicks, who had turned himself in to police on the night of the killings, was 46 at the time.

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