Jurors now deliberate on the fate of accused serial killer Billy Chemirmir
Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the capital murder trial of accused serial killer Billy Chemirmir completed their closing arguments before jurors around 3:45 p.m. Thursday.
A Dallas County jury now decides to convict Chemirmir of capital murder in the death of 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris. Jurors may also consider the charge of theft.
On the last day of testimony, jurors overheard the owner of a jewelry store say that he had purchased gold and diamonds in Chemirmir from November 2015.
Gilad Nissanov, owner of Diamond and Gold Exchange in far north Dallas, said he paid Chemirmir more than $ 91,000 over about two years for jewelry.
Chemirmir is accused of killing elderly women by suffocating them, leaving little or no traces of attack, and stealing their valuables. The first woman Chemirmir is accused of killing, according to medical examiner files, is Catherine Probst Sinclair on April 7, 2016.
For three days, Dallas County prosecutors presented evidence of assaults against three elderly women: Lu Thi Harris, 81, Mary Brooks, 88, and Mary Bartel, 91. Bartel survived, and his police affair sparked the Chemirmir investigation. As a result of the investigation, dozens of female death records have shifted from natural death status to indeterminate death or homicide.
“Her greed was more important than their lives,” said prosecutor Jerry Varney in oral argument before jurors began to deliberate.
Chemirmir was arrested on March 20, 2018, the same day Harris died.
Police say Chemirmir may be one of Texas’ most prolific killers. Chemirmir has been charged with 18 counts of capital murder in Dallas and Collin counties. In total, he has been linked by police records, civil lawsuits and medical examiners’ reports to at least two dozen deaths. Chemirmir and his defense team say he’s innocent. He chose not to testify at his trial.
Defense attorney Kobby Warren said prosecutors racked up charges against Chemirmir because they could not prove the charge that Chemirmir killed Harris.
“You probably got the case you were here for wrong,” Warren said. “It’s not Mrs. Brooks. It’s not Mrs. Bartel. But it’s Mrs. Harris.
“You can believe, if you like, that Mr. Chemirmir killed Ms. Brooks, but the state has not proven to you beyond a reasonable doubt that it killed Ms. Harris.”
Jurors in this trial will decide Chemirmir’s guilt in Harris’ death. Senior prosecutor Glen Fitzmartin said Chemirmir picked Harris from a Walmart, followed her home and suffocated her to death with a pillow. He then took several of his belongings, including jewelry and money, Fitzmartin said.
A cell phone expert said Thursday that Chemirmir’s cell phone was in the Harris, Brooks and Bartel area at the time of their attacks.
Mark Sedwig, an FBI agent who analyzed cellphone recordings, said Chemirmir’s phone was in the area of Brooks’ house for 45 minutes on January 30. His phone was detected in the Diamond and Gold Exchange area about nine minutes after leaving the area of Brooks’ house, Sedwig testified during questioning of prosecutor Dimitri Anagnostis.
But defense attorneys Warren and Mark Watson have questioned the reliability of the cell phone data.
Jurors watched an hour-long police interrogation with Chemirmir on the day of his arrest in March 2018 on Wednesday. Presented to police charges that he was in Harris’ home and in possession of his belongings, Chemirmir denied killing her.
Jurors also saw CCTV footage from a Walmart in Far North Dallas showing that Chemirmir and Harris were in the store at the same time. He drove out of the parking lot two minutes before her, however, defense attorneys pointed out.
Prosecutors also showed surveillance footage of the same Walmart in Chemirmir after Brooks in January 2018. Police in Richardson said their investigation determined he also targeted her in the store and suffocated her to death at the home. she.
“Now you know when they were shopping at that Walmart… He was in his hunting ground,” Varney said.
On Tuesday, Dallas detectives said they found Harris’ body at her home, and her son-in-law testified about her life as a Vietnam War refugee and gracious figure. Richard Rinehart said she often gave friends and family $ 2 bills as gifts – and Chemirmir was arrested while holding an envelope with her handwriting full of $ 2 bills.
On Monday, jurors heard from Bartel, who survived an attack in his apartment in Plano. Police suspected Chemirmir in the attack and waited in his apartment to arrest him. A Plano detective testified that officers watched him throw a jewelry box into a dumpster. The jewelry box included a piece of paper with Harris’s name on it.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, the courtroom is closed to the public. The trial will also be streamed live on the court’s YouTube page.