The 20-year-old UNC student charged in the fatal crash on I-85 on Sunday made his first court appearance on Thursday.
Chandler Michael Kania was taken directly from UNC Hospitals to the Orange County Courthouse to appear before District Judge Charles Anderson. After being wheeled into the courtroom, Kania was served with additional felony charges including three counts of second-degree murder.
“The allegation is that he did unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously, with malice aforethought kill and murder Felicia Harris.”
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Nieman repeated those words, “the allegation is that he did unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously, with malice aforethought kill and murder” the other two victims who died in the crash – 46-year-old Darlene McGee and six-year-old Jahnice Baird.
Nieman announced other felony charges against Kania.
“He is also charged with three counts of felony death by vehicle,” Nieman adds. “He is also charged with felony serious injury by vehicle, allegation being he did cause serious injury – two broken bones in the lower left leg and a broken right collarbone to the person of Jahnia King.”
The nine-year-old King is the lone surviving passenger from the 2007 Suzuki Kania’s vehicle collided with.
Kania’s mother sat in the back of the courtroom, sometime audibly crying, along with his father.
Nieman says malice was shown in the case, in part, by the distance Kania traveled in the wrong direction on I-85 before the fatal crash around three o’clock Sunday morning near mile marker 163.
“Based on eyewitness accounts, he was traveling that direction of travel for – we believe at this time – at least six miles,” he says. “At least one witness indicates that he was going ‘not slow.’”
“Those vehicles [driven by Harris and Kania] met basically perfectly head on.”
Nieman adds after the crash the 20-year-old from Asheboro gave officers the I.D. of another individual, who was over 21 years of age. He says Kania went to at least two bars before the accident and others with Kania the night of the crash attempted to keep him from driving his 2005 Jeep Wrangler.
“There are eyewitness accounts of his behavior from earlier in the night in which at least one and as many as five people, before he decided to get in the vehicle in Chapel Hill, attempted to physically restrain him,” he says, “and that he fought physically with at least one of those people – knocking at least one of those people to the ground.”
Nieman says another person attempted to take his keys but was unsuccessful before ultimately taking Kania’s cell phone in hopes to keep him from leaving.
Nieman called Kania a danger to himself and others as well as a flight risk and asked the judge to set the bond at $1.5 million.
Judge Anderson settled on bond at $1 million.
“This case represents almost unimaginable horror and loss and tragedy,” he says, “and is an indictment, in many ways, of the world we live in and the world we tolerate.”
If Kania does post bond, the judge imposed conditions that Kania submit to electronic house arrest, not to consume alcohol, submit to a curfew between eight o’clock at night and eight in the morning, and have no contact with investigators, victims, or possible witnesses in the case.
The only time Kania spoke at the hearing was to agree to waive his right to a public defender and to say he did not have any questions for the judge.
If convicted on all charges, Kania could face between 40 and 50 years in prison.
Kania’s attorney was not present at the hearing and a court review to ensure he has legal counsel is scheduled to take place on Monday.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/kania-charged-with-3-counts-of-2nd-degree-murder/
The Carrboro Police Department arrested a man, on Tuesday, who is wanted in connection with a death in Durham.
The Durham Police Department announced the arrest of 30-year-old Andrew Koko Scheper, by the Carrboro PD. Scheper is wanted in connection with the death of 38-year-old Trinity James Wilkins, also known as Trinity Smith.
Wilkins’ body was found on January 19 in a body of water near East Club Boulevard in Durham.
Wilkins and Scheper knew each other and the homicide did not appear to be random, according to investigators.
Scheper, of Durham, has been charged with one count of murder.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/carrboro-pd-arrest-man-charged-murder/
Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall has announced that if a conviction is brought against the two men charged with murdering 59-year-old UNC professor Feng Liu in July, he will not be seeking the death penalty.
Woodall says, “I don’t think, at this time, North Carolina has an effective death penalty.”
He says he is not opposed to the death penalty, but adds that the entire system is not in a functioning state.
“I do not have any moral opposition to the death penalty,” he says. “I think there are circumstances – extremely rare circumstances – where it is warranted. I don’t think that the law, as we have it presently in North Carolina, is sufficient to ensure that we carry it out properly.”
Woodall adds that in a case where capital punishment is on the table, there are many factors that go into that decision.
Botched executions in other states have sparked a nationwide review of the death penalty system. Earlier this year in North Carolina, two half brothers were exonerated on murder charges and released from prison after nearly 30 years behind bars. Both men were originally sentenced to death; one had his sentenced reduced to life in prison.
Woodall says that in many cases a term of life in prison can bring a victim’s family more closure than a death sentence.
“It would take decades for the sentence to be carried out,” he says, “if it were ever carried out. And victims’ families have to deal with it for decades.”
If North Carolina is going to continue to be a state that has the death penalty as an option for prosecutors, Woodall says the entire system needs to be reformed. He cites an example from the federal system that could serve as a model for North Carolina.
“For a federal prosecutor to pursue the death penalty,” he says, “they have to go before a federal panel that looks at the evidence. The defense actually gets to present a short version of their case. And that panel determines if it’s a death-penalty case.”
Woodall says this provides more consistency in the process, adding that he believes that is one thing missing in North Carolina.
“I believe it’s very important for an elected prosecutor to have a great deal of discretion to determine how the law is going to be enforced in his or her jurisdiction,” he says. “But I do think if you’re going to have the death penalty – the ultimate punishment – there has to be some way to ensure that it is going to be used consistently throughout the state.”
Juries issued three death sentences in North Carolina in 2014 – in 2013 juries returned one death sentence and none were returned in 2012, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The state of North Carolina has not executed a prisoner since 2006.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/da-woodall-says-nc-death-penalty-system-needs-reform/
Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall will not be seeking the death penalty in the case of a murdered UNC professor from July of this year.
59-year-old Feng Liu was hit in the head with a landscaping rock on July 23rd, while he was walking near West University Drive and Ransom Street and died the next day at UNC Hospitals.
Two men were arrested in connection with the case the next day.
They’re charged with first-degree murder – a capital crime – but Woodall says there are issues that exist with the death penalty, in its current form.
“The death penalty is really in a state of uncertainty,” he says. “There has not been an execution [in North Carolina] in many years. There are lots of challenges to our death penalty statute and the scheme that is used in North Carolina. That’s true all over the country.”
DA Woodall also says that, based on recent history, he does not believe a death verdict would ultimately be handed down.
“[Even] as horrific as the circumstances of this case are, I think it’s extremely unlikely that there would be a death verdict in this case,” he says. “I talked to the Liu family, and they did not want it pursued as a death penalty case.”
Woodall says the discussion with the victim’s family does not make the decision of whether to pursue the death penalty or not, but it does factor into his equation.
The next step in the Liu trial is a court date set for April, which Woodall refers to as an “administrative” appearance.
Woodall adds that the investigation is ongoing and new discoveries are being made. Those discoveries must then be shared with the defense throughout the trial.
The district attorney is not expecting to have evidence back from the state crime lab before the next trial date.
“It will not be a case that’s for trial for some period of time,” he says. “Waiting to get the evidence back from the crime lab will take, probably, close to a year.”
27-year-old Troy Arrington, of Chapel Hill, and 23-year-old Derick Davis II, of Durham, have been charged in killing the professor.
The two men face charges of armed robbery in addition to first-degree murder.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/no-death-penalty-case-murdered-professor/
Additional reporting by Sarah Headley
The man accused of shooting his estranged wife to death in May 2012 outside Mary Scroggs Elementary School pleaded guilty to discharging a firm arm on educational property Tuesday in Orange County Superior Court.
Ali Cherfaoui of Carrboro was apprehended near 15-501 and Raleigh Road (NC-54) after officers, based on 911 calls, suspected him of shooting Chahnaz Kebaier just after 2:00 p.m. outside the school. Kebaier’s friend, Emily Martine, was the first to run into the school asking for help, saying her friend was just shot in front of her.
Tuesday’s guilty plea adds 23 to 37 months in prison to his first guilty plea of possession of a weapon on school property. He made that plea on September 2 when he was sentenced to 19 months in prison.
Cherfaoui’s guilty plea is part two of a four part plea series. He was also charged with one count of second-degree kidnapping and one count of first-degree murder. Cherfaoui will appear in court again on October 14.
Cherfaoui and Kebaier had two children together who both attended Mary Scroggs. A judge ruled shortly after the killing that the children would live with Kebaier’s parents in Tunisia on the African continent.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/2012-elementary-school-murder-suspect-enters-plea-2-four/
Search warrants unsealed by the Durham County District Attorney’s office Friday morning reveal multiple people of interest in the murder investigation of Faith Hedgepeth nearly two years ago. Chapel Hill Police have yet to say if any have been ruled out as suspects.
The most notable connection with the victim is Eriq Takoy Jones, who lived in the same apartment complex as Hedgepeth, a few buildings away from where she was found murdered. Jones apparently had a previous relationship with Hedgepeth’s roommate, Karena Lynn Rosario.
According to a warrant, Jones told Rosario earlier that summer that he hated Hedgepeth and would kill her if Rosario didn’t get back together with him. Police were told that Jones resented Hedgepeth because he considered her a barrier to his relationship with Rosario.
Police say Rosario placed a restraining order against Jones two months before Hedgepeth was murdered, after he allegedly kicked two doors off their frame in Rosario’s apartment.
Jones gave investigators permission to search his cell phone. They found a text message Jones sent to a friend the day before the murder asking the friend to forgive him for what he was about to do. Jones also sent a tweet to someone else asking for forgiveness. Police said the cover photo on Jones’ Facebook page was changed to include, “Dear Lord. Forgive me for all of my sins and the sins I may commit today. Protect me from the girls who don’t deserve me and the ones who wish me dead today.”
Jacob Beatley of 103 West Longview Street in Chapel Hill was also questioned six months after the murder took place. A warrant shows that a cell tower search conducted early in the investigation connected an incident report to Beatley’s phone number.
Investigators said when they contacted Beatley they found that he lived with the person who Rosario was with during the time of the murder. Police said he also went to the nightclub The Thrill that night, but couldn’t recall when he left. The warrants say Beatley was asked to submit a DNA sample, but he did not do so voluntarily.
Another person of interest included Reginald Leonard Jackson, II who was living in Greensboro in November 2012 when investigators attempted to contact him.
A Chapel Hill Police officer said he attempted to get in touch with him by phone multiple times before traveling to his last known address in Greensboro. The CHPD officer said he caught up with Jackson with the assistance of local police. He said Jackson was in his car and pulling out of the parking lot of his apartment complex. The warrant says Jackson told the officers he “knew of (Hedgepeth)” but that he doesn’t talk to police like that.
In Thursday’s release, Police Chief Chris Blue said investigators collected hundreds of DNA samples, but did not name any suspects. Chapel Hill Police did report that at least one person refused to have a DNA sample submitted.
Investigators continue to ask that if you have any information regarding the case to call 919-614-6363. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/persons-interest-listed-hedgepeth-murder-investigation-documents/
Some information in this story may be considered graphic
***Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue Addresses the Media***
• At approximately 11:00am on September 7, 2012, officers with the Chapel Hill Police Department received a call to the Hawthorne at the View apartment complex located at 5639 Old Chapel Hill Road in reference to a possible dead body located in apartment 1502.
• When officers arrived, they were greeted by the primary tenant of apartment 1502, Karena Rosario, who advised that she had found the victim, Faith Hedgepeth, inside and that she was unresponsive.
• Officers located Faith Hedgepeth dead in a bedroom inside. Faith’s body was found on the floor leaning against the bed with her shirt pulled up; she had no clothes on from the waist down.
• There was pooled blood near her body and blood spatter on the wall and bedroom closet door. A note written on a take-out fast-food bag was also located on the bed.
• An autopsy determined that Faith’s death was caused by blunt force trauma to the head resulting from a beating.
• A sexual assault kit was collected, which revealed the presence of semen. It was determined that the DNA profile generated from this semen matched other DNA evidence which was also recovered from the crime scene. Investigators believe that this DNA belongs to the person responsible for Faith Hedgepeth’s murder.
• Investigators determined that, prior to her death, Faith Hedgepeth and Karena Rosario visited Davis Library on the UNC campus at approximately 7:30 pm and arrived home shortly after midnight. At a little before 1AM on Sept 7th, they arrived at the Wallace Parking Deck on East Rosemary Street and walked to The Thrill bar. Hedgepeth and Rosario left the bar together at 2:38 am and drove home in Faith’s car, a white Nissan Altima. Investigators believe the pair returned home and that Rosario left the apartment at 4:27 am. Rosario returned home with a friend at approx. 11 am that morning, at which time she discovered Hedgepeth’s body.
The Chapel Hill Police Department says it has surveillance from The Thrill.
• Investigators of the Chapel Hill Police Department and agents of the NC SBI, have collected hundreds of items of evidence; interviewed friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, classmates, etc. and consulted with experts in various scientific fields of study.
• Investigators have executed numerous search warrants and court orders for computers, cellular phones, social media accounts, financial records, etc. Investigators have asked persons of interest to provide oral DNA swabs so that their DNA could be compared to the DNA profile of the offender. Hundreds of DNA samples have been collected and analyzed during the course of this investigation. None of the samples have been found to match the DNA profile of the offender.
• Investigators have excellent evidence in this case and we are making a public appeal for any information that will help us tie that evidence to Faith’s killer.
• This is not a cold case. It has been and remains an active investigation.
• Reward money has been pledged from a number of sources and there is over $40,000 in reward money available in this case.
If anyone has information that they wish to provide, please contact investigators at 919-614-6363. If you call this number, you will speak directly to one of the Investigators who are assigned to this case and are familiar with it. This number will be staffed 24 hours a day. You can also submit a time online at www.crimestoppers-chcunc.org.http://chapelboro.com/uncategorized/latest-faith-hedgepeth-murder-investigation-details/
Some information in this story may be considered graphic
Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue released new information Thursday that he says he hopes will help lead to the capture of the suspected killer in the murder of a UNC sophomore.
“Since September 7, 2012, a killer has been on the loose and has not been held accountable for Faith’s death,” Chief Blue said. “We believe that someone knows who did this and will be compelled to come forward.”
“If Faith’s killer is out there hearing this message, you should know that we will catch you,” Chief Blue said.
Sunday marks two years since a roommate of 19-year-old Faith Danielle Hedgepeth found her dead in their off-campus apartment.
However, Chief Blue says this has not, at any time, become a cold case.
“We’ve conducted an extensive investigation, and we have excellent evidence,” Chief Blue says. “This is a very strong case. What we need to do is connect that case to Faith’s killer.”
In the attempts of making that connection, Chapel Hill Police released never-before-told details about the investigation, which has—at times during the case—gone outside of North Carolina.
Part of that release includes the confirmation of what Hedgepeth’s parents earlier told the media, that they suspected she was beaten to death. She was found badly beaten and partially undressed, according to the release.
On January 8 of this year, Chapel Hill Police announced the DNA of a male suspect was found at the scene.
“Investigators have asked persons of interest to provide oral DNA swabs so that their DNA can be compared to the DNA collected at the scene,” Chief Blue says. “Hundreds of DNA samples have been collected and analyzed at this point. None of them have been found to match the DNA profile of Faith’s killer.”
Police say DNA samples were submitted in various forms, including oral swabs. At least one person has declined to submit a DNA sample.
Investigators also released a photo of a hand-written note that was found at the scene, which was believed to have been written by the killer.
The murder took place at the Hawthorne at the View apartment complex, which is located in the Durham County portion of Chapel Hill. The Durham District Attorney’s Office will prosecute a suspect, should any arrests be made, though the Chapel Hill Police Department is the investigating agency.
If anyone has information that they wish to provide, please contact investigators at 919-614-6363. If you call this number, you will speak directly to one of the Investigators who are assigned to this case and are familiar with it. This number will be staffed 24 hours a day. You can also submit online at www.crimestoppers-chcunc.org. You can reach Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515.
UNC spokesperson Karen Moon released the following statement regarding the release of information:
“Chapel Hill Police contacted the University in connection with their investigation into Faith Hedgepeth’s death. Because this is a Chapel Hill Police Department investigation, we are not in a position to comment on it. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Hedgepeth family as they deal with such a tragic loss. We remain hopeful that the case will be solved as quickly as possible.”
Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt told WCHL he did not want to comment on the information release at this time in order to allow the police department to continue its diligent work without interruption.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/chpd-releases-new-hedgepeth-murder-investigation-details/
The public visitation and memorial services for the Durham volunteer priest who was found murdered last weekend have been cancelled.
WRAL reports the family of 71-year-old Kent Terry Hinkson has decided to pay their respects privately after the story has received such a high amount of attention. The services were planned for Friday and Saturday at All Saints Church on Farrington Road in Durham. Hinkson led religious activities there for people who couldn’t attend Sunday services.
Hinkson reportedly left his home to run errands on August 4. His family reported to authorities that he never returned.
A search effort ensued, and Hinkson’s red Hyundai Sonata was discovered Wednesday in a parking lot of Mews Apartments on Willamsburg Road, nearly five miles from his home.
The suspect, 36-year-old Matthew John Reed, reportedly led authorities to Hinkson’s body somewhere near Pleasant Green Road and U.S. 70 the Sunday following his disappearance. He is being held in the Orange County Jail for the murder. The cause of death has not yet been released.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/slain-durham-priests-public-memorial-services-cancelled/
HILLSBOROUGH – Two men now face indictments in the death of a professor at UNC.
An Orange County grand jury on Monday indicted 23-year-old Derick Davis II of Durham and 27-year-old Troy Arrington Jr. of Chapel Hill on charges of first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon.
The men were arrested after the attack last month. Police said 59-year-old Feng Liu died a day after suffering serious head wounds.
Davis and Arrington have been held at the Orange County jail, and it wasn’t immediately clear if they had attorneys. District Attorney Jim Woodall hasn’t said if the state will seek the death penalty.
Liu was a research professor in UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy. A memorial for him was held Saturday on campus.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/indictments-2-charged-unc-professors-death/