DA: UNC professor was assaulted with rock
DURHAM — UNC professor Feng Liu was viciously beaten to death with a landscape stone, according to warrants for the two men accused of his murder.
The men, Derick Davis II, 23, of Durham, and Troy Arrington Jr., 27, of Chapel Hill, were arrested Thursday and are charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery in the alleged theft of a brown wallet and four credit cards that belonged to Liu, 59.
Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said first-degree murder charges mean Davis and Arrington could possibly face the death penalty, but it’s still too early to say whether that will be the case.
“Any first-degree murder charge has the potential to be a death penalty case,” Woodall said. “There are steps you have to take to get to that point.”
Both Davis and Arrington had recently been released from jail. Davis, according to WRAL, had been released from the Wake County jail on Tuesday after serving three weeks on a shoplifting charge.
Arrington was released from Durham County jail on July 2 after posting a $5,000 secured bond, a $5,000 unsecured bond and receiving an electronic monitoring device as part of his pretrial supervision. He was awaiting trial on charges of stealing a dog, breaking and entering and felony conspiracy, among others.
His electronic monitoring kept track of a 7 a.m. leave time and 7 p.m. return time, according to a statement from the Durham County Criminal Justice Resource Center. He also was prohibited from going near the victim's residence in the dog case. He was wearing electronic monitoring unit when he was arrested.
According to the Durham County CJRC, all protocols and procedures were properly followed for the monitoring of Arrington from his release from the Durham County Detention Facility until arrest.
Liu, who lived in Durham, was a well-liked and respected research professor at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC.
He was severely beaten and robbed Wednesday about 1 p.m., on West University Drive near the intersection of Ransom Street, just a few blocks from campus.
At the time he was murdered, Liu was taking a walk, something that he reportedly did each day on his lunch break.
He was found with severe head injuries by several passers-by who called 911 to report that Liu was bleeding from his nose and ears and had difficulty breathing.
Woodall said police were fortunate that the residents who came to Liu’s aid were also very observant, which helped police to quickly capture the two suspects.
“Local citizens were critical in helping the Chapel Hill Police Department make these arrests so quickly,” Woodall said. “They were very observant and noticed the people around them.”
Both Davis and Arrington have extensive criminal records.
Davis has previously been convicted on multiple charges of felony breaking and entering, larceny and possession of stolen goods in Durham County. Charges date back to 2007.
Meanwhile, Arrington has been convicted of gun crimes, such as possession of a stolen fire arm by a felon and carrying a concealed weapon, as well as felony drug charges. His charges date back to 2006.
Arrington has also been charged in crimes in Alamance, Durham, Orange and Wake counties.