Craig Hicks, the North Carolina man accused of shooting and killing three Muslim college students at an apartment complex in Chapel Hill, faced the victims’ relatives in court for the first time in two years.
Students Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her 19 -year-old sister Razan Abu-Salha were killed in February 2015.
At a hearing on Tuesday Farris Barakat, Deah Barakats brother, told The Associated Press Hicks emerged smug during past courtroom appearings. Nonetheless, Barakat says watching Hicks has helped him with his anger over the loss of his brother.
“When you interpret another human being, you become more gracious, ” he said. “You become less angry.”
Hicks motive has not been established, but relatives tell The Associated Press they believe the victims were targeted because of their Muslim faith. Police are also looking at an disagreement over a parking space.
According to search warrants, on the evening of February 5, 2015 police responded to a 911 bellow of shoots being fired at an apartment complex. When they arrived on panorama they discovered a male with a gunshot wound to the president, one female in the kitchen and the other in the doorway. They were declared dead at the scene.
Hicks is charged with three countings of first-degree assassination. No federal bills have been delivered against Hicks, but the FBI is investigating whether the murders were a hate crime. The search warrant application mentions Hicks’ Facebook page, rostering personas of a weapon and an relationship with atheism as evidence related to a possible motive.
Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications head for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told me that he believes there was a bias with this case. We believe that if the victims had not been wearing headscarves, had they not been Muslim, that this incident would not have appeared, Hooper said.
Hooper told Fox News he and the other officers of the Council on American-Islamic Relations were very active in the initial reaction to the murders. Hooper says he hopes Hicks is brought to justice to the fullest extension of the law.
No trial date has been scheduled.
Barakat was a University of North Carolina School of Dentistry student; Abu-Salha was accepted into the same academy and set to start in the fall of 2015. Razan Abu-Salha was a sophomore at North Carolina State University College of Design.
Tiffany Brannan, the Director of Communications for the UNC School of Dentistry, says Barakat was a extremely involved student as class policeman and co-president of the schools student diplomat program.
Deah was a friend to everyone he met in this institution, Brannan said. He was a source of laugh for his classmates and he had a smile for all persons he passed in the dormitories.
The school views an annual epoch of service each year for Barakat and Abu-Salha.
The Associated Press contributed to this report .
Terace Garnier is a Fox News multimedia reporter are stationed in Columbia, South Carolina. Follow her on twitter: @TeraceGarnier