Second suspect pleads guilty in UNC professor’s beating death

November 8, 2018
Feng Liu

A Durham man will serve at least 27 years in prison for the beating death of a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor in a mugging near campus more than four years ago.

Derick Davis II, 25, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon in the death of Feng Liu and was sentenced to between 330 and 408 months in prison.

Liu, 59, a research professor in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, was taking a lunchtime walk on July 23, 2014, when he was beaten with a rock and robbed near the intersection of Ransom Street and West University Drive, police said. He died the following day at UNC Hospitals.

Troy Arrington Jr., 28, of Chapel Hill, was convicted last year of first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon in the case and is now serving a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole.

Arrington and Davis were out looking for people to rob, prosecutors said, and Liu was attacked from behind and left in the roadway.

Liu worked his way through school as a carpenter and immigrated from China so his daughter would have opportunities not available to women in that country, Liu’s son-in-law wrote in a letter that was read at Arrington’s sentencing last year. The daughter is now a physician.

Liu, a noted cancer researcher, was killed a couple of months before his granddaughter was born and a few years shy of retiring to the North Carolina mountains, where he planned to tend a garden on a farm owned by his son-in-law’s family, according to the letter.

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