Hawzah News Agency (North Carolina - US) - A North Carolina man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to murdering three Muslim college students in Chapel Hill.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 50, pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder two months after the district attorney dropped the death penalty from his case, according to The Associated Press. His plea comes four years after the students were killed.
“I’ve wanted to plead guilty since day one,” Hicks reportedly told Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson. Hicks will serve three consecutive life sentences with no possibility of parole, the news service reported, citing the judge.
Prosecutor Kendra Montgomery-Blinn on Wednesday described Hicks as an "angry and bitter man," saying that his marriage had been falling apart and he had recently quit his job, according to the AP.
Police said that in 2015, Hicks entered a condo that belonged to Deah Barakat, 23. He then killed Barakat, his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, authorities said.
Barakat was reportedly studying dentistry at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Yusor Abu-Salha had been accepted to dental school. Razan Abu-Salha was a student at North Carolina State University.
Police said at the time that the shooting was over parking spaces, but the victims' families believed it was a hate crime.
“Three beautiful young Americans were brutally murdered and there is no question in our minds that this tragedy was born of bigotry and hate,” Mohammad Abu-Salha, whose daughters were killed, said during a congressional hearing on hate crimes in April.