Hate crime prosecutions rare in NC, often difficult to prove

AP News
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Posted: Feb 14, 2015 3:14 AM
Hate crime prosecutions rare in NC, often difficult to prove

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Relatives of the three Muslim college students killed in North Carolina are pressing for hate crime charges against the alleged shooter, but legal experts say such cases are relatively rare and can be difficult to prove.

Chapel Hill police say they have yet to uncover any evidence that Craig Stephen Hicks acted out of religious animus, though they are still investigating. As a potential motive, they cited a longtime dispute over parking spaces at the condo community where Hicks and the victims lived.

Hicks, 46, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

The FBI is now conducting a "parallel preliminary inquiry" to determine whether federal laws were violated.