CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) --Court records show that Derick Davis and Troy Arrington Jr., though they are only in their 20s, have spent several years in and out of prison serving time for various crimes: breaking and entering, weapon and drug crimes.
But now they're both charged with murder and the district attorney said he sees a similar trend all the time.
Facing a judge for the first time on first degree murder charges, Davis and Arrington listened as prosecutors laid out the facts Friday.
Still wearing his GPS ankle bracelet from a pre-trial release on larceny charges out of Durham, Arrington learned he could face life in prison or even the death penalty if convicted of killing 59-year-old Feng Liu.
"There's no GPS monitoring device that can prevent someone from committing crime," said Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall.
He believes the problem starts at the top, with the General Assembly pulling back on public safety resources. Woodall said he is limited in convicting and punishing people as habitual felons.
"Some people can still get very enhanced sentences," Woodall said, "but it's been reduced tremendously. And that's our legislature deciding that's not a priority -- that the resources don't exist."
Now, as people who loved and adored Liu and even those who didn't know him at all, leave flowers on the road where he was attacked in broad daylight, Woodall says he's preparing to do his best and make sure justice is served.
"There are gonna be mistakes that are made," Woodall said. "And we've got to learn from them and that does not help the family, the friends or the colleagues of Dr. Liu but unfortunately, that's the reality."
Chapel Hill police say Liu's wallet and credit cards were stolen during the robbery and assault that ultimately led to his death.
They are not saying yet whether those credit cards were used in the hours before Davis and Arrington were arrested.
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