Craig Stephen Hicks was sentenced to life on Wednesday for killing three young Muslims in North Carolina in 2015.
The striking revelation of the trial was, however, the fact that Hicks' primary motivation behind the killings was anti-Muslim sentiments.
In a statement online, North Carolina Chapel Hill Chief of police Chris Blue said the murder was actually a hate crime, rather than a fight over a parking spot, as initially claimed by the police. Blue later said he regretted not sharing this fact with the families of the victims.
Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were fatally shot in Chapel Hill, North Carolina back in 2015.
Their neighbor, Craig Hicks, surrendered to police shortly after the attack and was charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
"There is no doubt that the murderer committed these crimes with a heart full of hatred," Blue further added.
District Attorney Satana Deberry said the disagreement over a parking space was not the motivation behind the murder.
"The hatred of Hicks toward Islam pushed him to kill innocent people," Deberry said.
As the investigations were continuing over whether hate played a role in the killing, the wife of the man suspected of the killings denied the charges, saying that the attacks were not motivated by religion, but only a parking spot and noise issue.
U.S. media outlets refused to cover the case at that time as a possible act of terrorism or hate crime, and many social media users have put blame on the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric.
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