Chandler Kania's trial began at the Orange County Courthouse Wednesday as opening statements were presented to the jury.
Authorities say Kania was driving drunk on the wrong side of I-85 on July 19, 2015 when he crashed into another car. The crash killed three people: Darlene McGee, 46, Felecia Harris, 49, and six-year-old Jahnice Beard.
On Monday, the former UNC student, now 21, pleaded guilty to three counts of felony death by vehicle and one count each of driving while under the influence, driving with an open container, driving after consumption of alcohol under the age of 21, purchasing alcohol under the age of 21, consuming alcohol under the age of 21 and driving the wrong way on a two-lane highway.
Kania pleaded not guilty to three counts of second degree murder and one count of reckless driving.
Both the prosecution and the defense agreed on the details of the case, but the prosecution has to prove that Kania acted with malice, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.
“You will hear that while there were people who are tending to the 9-year-old girl on the ground, wailing in pain, her mother, her mother’s best friend and her niece dead in the car, that this man wouldn’t stop honking his horn, cursing at the first responders, telling them to hurry up and help him," said Jeff Neimann, Orange County assistant district attorney, according to the (Raleigh) News & Observer.
Roger Smith Jr., one of Kania's attorneys, argued that there was not malice involved in the crash, but there was a cultural influence.
"You've got somebody who's 18 years old, and they leave home and they come to UNC, and they go through fraternity rush, and the first thing they do is they're served alcohol at all of these parties," Smith said, according to WRAL. "It's part of the culture there. Are we talking about malice? Or are we talking about young kids after they've left home and they're sitting here and taught how to drink?"
So far, the jury has heard from family members, the people who called 911 at the site of the crash, a medical examiner and Kania's friends who were with him on the day of the crash.
One of the jurors was dismissed Thursday after falling asleep for 25 minutes during testimony, and an alternate stepped in, according to ABC 11 Eyewitness News.
The trial will continue on Friday morning.
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