- Associated Press - Friday, December 18, 2015

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) - A state judge ruled Friday that a man charged with murder in the slayings of three convenience store workers in Pitt County more than three years ago is competent to stand trial.

Local media outlets report that Judge Robert Hobgood made the ruling at a hearing in Greenville and set the trial for Antwon Anthony for February 8. The state is seeking the death penalty.

Anthony is charged in the April 1, 2012 shooting deaths of three employees at a convenience store in the community of Farmville.

The trial, which had been scheduled to start in September, had been delayed so there could be a mental evaluation of Anthony.

The judge said Friday he had read the reports of psychiatrists and issued a court finding that the defendant was faking symptoms of mental illness.

But he ordered the defendant to be taken to the mental health unit at Central Prison in Raleigh and have his medication monitored until the trial. Last summer, Anthony’s attorneys said they would mount a defense of diminished mental capacity.

Anthony is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of first-degree kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a stolen firearm. Attorneys have said the trial could last two months.

Prosecutors say that Gaber Alawi, 24, Nabil Nasser Saeed Al’mogannahi, 26, and Mokbel “Sam” Mohamed Almujanahi, 16, a student at Farmville Central High School, were killed in the incident.

Three other defendants are charged with murder in the slayings.

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