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Killer of 3 Muslim students in US may face death penalty

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, who killed three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, may face the death penalty, a district attorney general has said.

Hicks is charged with killing Deah Barakat, 23, a University of North Carolina dental student, his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, a student at North Carolina State University. They were killed at an apartment complex where they all lived on February 10.

Police alleged Hicks killed the students over a parking dispute at the complex, though some relatives of the victims, neighbours and lawyer Stewart Fisher, an expert in civil rights and discrimination issues, have said they believe the attack was a hate crime.

Fisher insists that the Hicks committed the triple homicide because of the victims' religious and ethnic backgrounds.

In court documents filed last week, Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols said he would pursue a capital punishment case against Hicks.

Federal prosecutors, the FBI and the local authorities are searching for evidence to determine whether the killing was a hate crime targeting the three Muslim students.

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