While the nation continues to mourn the slaughter of Michael Brown, another one of those senseless, random killings happened just off the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.
CHAPEL HILL — One of two men accused of killing UNC-Chapel Hill professor Feng Liu was in between drug rehab programs and was scheduled to meet with his pretrial-release manager the day of the fatal attack.
The other had just been released from a roughly three-week stay in the Wake County Detention Center.
Troy Arrington, 27, of Chapel Hill, is one of two men charged with murder in Liu’s death. The 59-year-old research professor was hit in the head with a rock and robbed during a midday walk Wednesday near campus. He died the next day at UNC Hospitals.
In addition to first-degree murder, Arrington and Derick Davis II, 23, of Durham, also are charged with armed robbery, assault and common-law robbery. Both are being held without bail in the Orange County jail.
Davis, who also is charged with possession of stolen goods, has multiple convictions for felony breaking and entering and larceny, dating to 2007, in Durham County, according to state Department of Public Safety records. He was released from supervised probation on June 30, records show.
At the time, Davis was serving a short sentence in Wake County for shoplifting. He was released from the Wake County Detention Center on July 22.
Arrington has convictions on drug, assault and firearm-related charges. He was on pretrial release, pending an August court date in Durham on breaking and entering, larceny and other charges. Along with those charges he was accused of being a habitual felon – someone who has been found guilty of at least three separate felony crimes. The designation can mean tougher prison sentences for future convictions.
And, on cue, the town's public servants set land speed records, racing to the microphones to tell us just how inexplicable, totally random, we-never-woulda-guessed-it this all is.
The community continues to wrestle with the news of Liu’s death. The internationally known scientist had been a research professor at UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy since 2005, and colleagues said he often took walks in the residential neighborhood near campus."Randomness" - Is there anything it can't explain? Haven't we seen it trotted out perenially to
The case drew comparisons to the 2008 kidnapping, robbery and murder of Eve Carson, a popular UNC-CH student body president. Two Durham men who were supposed to be under the watch of the state probation office were convicted of her murder.
Laurence Lovette, one of those men, is on trial this week in Durham, accused of robbing and killing Abhijit Mahato, a Duke University graduate student found shot to death inside his apartment in January 2008.
Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt spoke with UNC-CH Chancellor Carol Folt on Thursday and said they will meet “early next week.”
“We talked a lot about the need for us to work closely together,” he said. “I honestly don’t know what that answer is [I do.], but whatever the answer is, it’s going to require the town and university working together.”
Chapel Hill police have been doing outreach in the Cameron-McCauley and Westwood neighborhoods area, Kleinschmidt said. With suspects in custody, the mayor said he wants to see what the town, police and perhaps the schools can do to help the community now.
“It’s that randomness that makes it so unsettling,” Kleinschmidt said. “For example, how do we talk to kids about this? I’ve talked to our staff about how can we tap our expertise. Those are the kinds of things we need to be focusing on now.”
Those of us with minds not so exquisitely tuned to the perception of randomness might say that Chapel Hill has a rather strikingly non-random problem from the residents of two neighborhoods very familiar to law enforcement. And from there, one might build a scatter-plot distribution that reveals how non-random this problem is across the country, providing baffled economists with a hypothesis on why the market prices different neighbors differently.
It's also notable what sort of language gets deployed depending on the circumstances. When Michael Brown or some other Son That Obama Never Had gets shot in yet another case involving impulsiveness and physical aggression, the killing is "deliberate" and "part of a larger pattern." When a thug snuffs out the life of a complete stranger who commits the mistake of his or her life in failing to heed the Talk, it's always "random," "senseless," and "something--we don't know what--must be done."