Hearing today for Chapel Hill man accused of slaying young Muslims

Craig Hicks listens to his attorney.

The man accused of killing three Muslim students in Chapel Hill nearly two years ago was not present in court during a hearing Thursday.

Craig Hicks is accused of shooting and killing a young Muslim couple and their relative after a dispute over parking. Hicks was known for arguing over parking spots at a Chapel Hill apartment complex and also making Facebook posts disdaining all religions.

ORIGINAL STORY: 3 Muslim students shot to death in Chapel Hill, neighbor charged

Authorities say 23-year-old Deah Barakat, his 21-year-old wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her 19-year-old sister Razan Abu-Salha, were killed Feb. 10, 2015 in the couple's Chapel Hill apartment.

A judge ruled in April 2015 that prosecutors can seek the death penalty against 46-year-old Hicks, who's charged with three counts of first-degree murder. Hicks is being held at a state prison in Raleigh pending trial.

After several continuances in the case, we still have not learned when the death penalty trial against Hicks will begin.

The U.S. Attorney's Office of the Middle District of North Carolina is still trying to determine whether this qualifies as a hate crime.

RELATED: Memorials to honor 3 students slain in Chapel Hill
At the time of the killings, Barakat and Yusor Abu Salha were newlyweds, just married that December. Barakat was enrolled at the UNC School of Dentistry and his wife had just completed her biology degree at NC State and planned to begin her dental studies at UNC.

PHOTOS: VICTIMS OF THE CHAPEL HILL SHOOTING REMEMBERED

Razan attended NC State and was studying architecture and environmental design. She was visiting her sister and brother-in-law at their condo when the shooting happened.

The victims' families have sought to keep their memories alive by continuing philanthropy work they started, including a dental clinic for Syrian refugees.

Hicks will be at a motions hearing on Jan. 31.

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