Three young lives were cut short on February 10, 2015.
Eyes across the nation turned to Chapel Hill when three Muslim college students – 23-year-old Deah Barakat, his wife 21-year-old Yusor Abu-Salha and her sister 19-year-old Razan Abu-Salha – were all shot and killed in an apartment in Finley Forest Condos where Barakat and Abu-Salha were living. The younger Abu-Salha was visiting the newlyweds at the time.
Barakat was a student at the UNC School of Dentistry, where Yusor was set to join him. Razan, meanwhile, was an undergraduate student at North Carolina State.
The suspect charged with the murders – Craig Stephen Hicks – pleaded guilty on Wednesday to the three murders and discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling.
Judge Orlando Hudson sentenced Hicks to three consecutive life sentences for the murders, as well as 64-89 months for shooting into an occupied dwelling.
Chapel Hill Police said in an initial release following the shootings that it appeared the incident stemmed from a parking dispute, but family members and others pushed back hard against that characterization immediately, asking that the murders be classified as a hate crime. Chapel Hill Police officials have since backed away from the parking dispute as a cause for the shootings.
The three victims – dubbed Our Three Winners – were remembered for their philanthropy work and those efforts have been championed by family members and those who knew the victims through various efforts, including what has become an annual day of service for dental students at UNC and a food drive that is carried out annually in Raleigh.
This story will be updated
Featured image via CBS 17