The man accused of killing three North Carolina college students — their family says because they were Muslim — is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing to determine whether he could face the death penalty.

Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols said in court documents last month he plans to seek the death sentence if 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks is convicted of first-degree murder.

Hicks is charged with the Feb. 10 killings of 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat; his wife, 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha; and her sister, 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

Police say he appears to have been motivated by a long-running dispute over parking spaces at a Chapel Hill condominium complex. The victims' families are adamant that they were targeted because they were Muslims.