Court hearing continued for UNC student in wrong-way crash

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Court hearing continued for UNC student in wrong-way crash
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Chandler Kania in court Tuesday

ORANGE COUNTY (WTVD) -- A court hearing for a former UNC Chapel Hill student charged in connection with a fatal crash that claimed the lives of three people in July, has been continued.

Chandler Kania appeared in court on crutches Tuesday as a judge decided to continue his case until January.

Two months ago, an Orange County grand jury indicted the 20-year-old on three second-degree murder charges, three counts of felony death by a motor vehicle and one count of felony serious injury by a motor vehicle. He is also charged with obtaining alcohol with a false driver's license.

PHOTOS: I-85 crash

Darlene McGee, 46, of Charlotte, her friend Felecia Harris, 49, of Charlotte, and Harris' granddaughter Jahnice Beard, 6, of Brooklyn, New York, were traveling home when their vehicle collided with a Jeep driven by Kania, who is suspected of driving drunk. Kania was headed northbound on Interstate 85 in the southbound lane at Exit 163.

Harris' daughter, Jahnia King, 9, was also seriously hurt in the crash. She has since been released from the hospital.

Darlene McGee, Felecia Harris and Jahnice Beard
images courtesy family

Kania and his family showed little emotion as they entered the courtroom, and they left without commenting.

"There will be no winners," attorney Wade Smith said. "There's nothing but sadness in this case.

"He's struggling every day with what happened here, and just struggles with his thoughts about the families," attorney Roger Smith added.

They say his family grieves for the victims.

McGee, Harris and the two children were returning from a family reunion in Virginia when the crash occurred.

Kania, who is from Asheboro, was released from jail after his family posted a $1 million bond.

Investigators say Kania purchased and consumed alcohol before driving the wrong way down Interstate 85. In court in July, prosecutors said Kania gave troopers someone else's ID when he was pulled over that showed he was 21 years old.

If convicted on all charges, Kania faces 40 to 50 years in prison. His next court hearing to slated for January 12, 2016.

"I don't think his mom has stopped weeping since this happened," Wade Smith said. "They realize that this is a long journey, there's a long way to go, and their son will most certainly go to prison. There's no doubt, and they hope that he can have a life after this is over."

As for the possibility of a plea deal in this case, the attorneys said it was too soon to tell.

"It's really way too early to know that yet," Rodger Smith said. "It's way too early in the process to know that."

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