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The Daily Tar Heel

Chandler Kania scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday

“Based upon the evidence that has been presented to us, we believe there are sufficient aggravating factors and evidence to support a second-degree murder charge,” said Jeff Nieman, assistant district attorney for Orange County.

According to a report by Alcohol Law Enforcement Special Agent D. R. Richardson, Kania drove his Jeep Wrangler northbound in the southbound lane before crashing into another car, killing three of the four passengers.

UNC law professor Tamar Birckhead said under North Carolina law, a second-degree murder charge requires the state to prove there was an intentional killing committed with malice.

“The fact that Kania was underage and illegally drinking, that he was driving the wrong way on I-85 for at least six miles, and that three people were killed — including a 6-year-old child — are additional facts that could potentially support the second-degree murder charge,” Birckhead said.

A DUI manslaughter charge is brought when someone is arrested for drunk driving and has caused an accident which resulted in the death of another person.

Birckhead said an involuntary manslaughter charge is an unintentional killing without malice but with culpable negligence. Authorities say Kania’s blood alcohol content level was twice the legal limit, and Birckhead said if the evidence demonstrates the defendant is aware of reckless conduct, this can support the finding of malice.

“So, the difference between the two charges is one of the state of mind of the defendant, which the state will try to demonstrate, and the defense will counter, through the circumstances of the crash,” Birckhead said.

“The state is ready to move forward,” Nieman said. “We have all the reports, and I don’t expect it to be resolved in March, but we’re going to start seeing if we can reach some type of agreement.”

In Richardson’s report of an interview with one of Kania’s Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity brothers, Kania was said to have gone to La Residence and He’s Not Here, two Chapel Hill bars, that night.

The fraternity member also said in the ALE interview that Kania was “belligerent and drunk, mad and calling attention to himself.”

The report states that Kania’s fraternity brother physically tried to take Kania’s keys to stop him from driving out of the parking lot of the fraternity house, but was unsuccessful.

One of Kania’s attorneys, Wade Smith, said the case underlines the danger of underage drinking and fake IDs.

“Chandler Kania will be the first to tell you that this one moment of indiscretion took three lives and, at least for now, took his life,” Smith said.


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