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Man sentenced to three life in prison without parole for the deaths of three Muslims

DURHAM, NC – Shortly after a North Carolina man pleaded guilty to shooting down three Muslim university students, a prosecutor played a mobile video of the killings on Wednesday, when one of the victim's relatives fainted , others cried and a man crying openly cursed the seasoned murderer.

Fifty-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks pleaded guilty to three homicides more than four years after the murders in February 2015 and two months after attorney Satana Deberry dropped death penalty plans. Hope to close a case bring, had too long passed.

"I wanted to plead guilty from the first day," Hicks told Supreme Court Justice Orlando Hudson. Hudson sentenced Hicks to three consecutive life in prison without parole after shooting into a building.

Hicks broke into 23-year-old Deah Barakat's Chapel Hill condominium and shot dead his wife, Barakat, Yusor, Abu-Salha (21

) and Razan Abu-Salha (19), the woman's sister.

At that time, Chapel Hill police claimed that Hicks had been provoked by competition for parking in the complex where they lived. Relatives said the victims had been targeted for being Muslim and asked the federal authorities to file hate crime charges.

The authorities later claimed that they lacked sufficient evidence to successfully prosecute Hicks for hate crimes, said Joe Cheshire, a lawyer for the families of the victims. He said the officials could not overcome Hicks' initial statement that the violence was provoked by a parking lot dispute.

Family members and prosecutors spent most of the two-hour hearing telling the judge that Hicks was motivated by bigotry against non-white people. Hicks showed a pistol on his hip as he intimidated his Korean neighbor, a black tagger, and his later victims, District Attorney Satana Deberry said.

As an aggressive atheist, Hicks also expressed disgust for Christians and Jews.

] "They have played into the hands of the worst religious people – the fanatics, the radicals – who want to destroy this world," said Mohammed Abu-Salha, the women's father, Hicks in court. The murders are part of the growing hatred of Muslims.

The court was shown a video-recorded confession. In it Hicks told the police that after grabbing his weapon and adding bullets and pounding his neighbor's door, he lost control when Barakat cursed him. "I did wrong, I overreacted," Hicks told interrogators.

This report was contradicted by a mobile video shown in court in which Barakat records his own death.

The video rolls as Barakat approaches the door to record the exchange with his often seething neighbor. He hoped it might be a sign of a legal restriction that keeps him out, Cheshire said.

Watching the victims' parents and siblings, the video showed Hicks complaining about Barakat and the Abu Salha sisters using three parking spaces. Prosecutors said that was not true. When Barakat replied that they did not use more spaces than the condominium rules allowed, Hicks replied, "You'll be disrespectful to me, I'll be disrespectful …" Hicks pulled a gun from his waist and fired several times.

The phone has fallen. You hear the screaming of women followed by several more shots. Then silence.

Women cried openly in the courtroom and a young man cursed Hicks. Barakat's older sister, Dr. Suzanne Barakat, passed out. She later appeared at a press conference with family members and a lawyer said she was fine.

"In 36 seconds, Mr. Hicks executed three people," said Deputy District Attorney Kendra Montgomery-Blinn.

Hicks said in his confession that after the women had been wounded, he shot them both up close. The results of the autopsy confirmed his description.

Barakat, a dentist's student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Yusor Abu-Salha were married less than two months ago, and she had just been admitted to the dental school. Razan had just made the list of deans at North Carolina State University. According to Montgomery-Blinn, Barakat and the Abu Salha sisters cooked food for the homeless, worked to improve a poor neighborhood in Raleigh, and planned a trip to Turkey to help Syrian war refugees.

Prosecutors and family members confronted the academic and humanitarian issues with the work of the slain with Hicks. An ex-wife told prosecutors that Hicks was fixed in the 1993 Michael Douglas movie "Falling Down" about a frustrated and unemployed white man who reacted to personal and social dysfunction with increasing violence.

Hicks' third marriage broke up and he & # 39; I recently quit his job at an auto parts company in anger, Montgomery-Blinn said. The local workers described him as a constant computer sniper.

Hicks listened attentively, hands tied.

Former US attorney Ripley Rand said his office did not decide on Wednesday to appeal Hicks for hate crimes. The Federal Law on Hate Crimes provides that lawyers must consider the outcome of the state process in prosecuting such charges , he said. There was "no extra punishment he could have gotten that meant anything," Rand said. [295] The Justice Department spokeswoman Kelly Laco declined commenting on the investigation into hate crimes.

Cheshire said the families were not satisfied with the deficiency of the prosecution.

"It hurt many feelings and contributed to the wrong story," he said. "Our government has failed this family and our multicultural democracy."

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