A man must stand trial once again for allegedly murdering an elderly woman. But even if the defense of Billy Chemirmir, 49, convinces jurors he is innocent of killing Lu Thi Harris, 81, he must still contend with a slew of similar claims. He has been indicted for murdering a total of at least 18 elderly women.
Opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday, April 25 at 10 a.m. ET / 9 a.m. CT.
The first trial in Harris’ death ended with a deadlocked jury in November 2021, according to KDFW. Jurors said one of them refused to deliberate.
Prosecutors said Chemirmir is the person who fatally smothered Harris and stole her jewelry at her home in Plano, Texas, in 2018. Chemirmir had Harris’ jewelry and keys during his arrest, police said.
He has been in jail since March 21, 2018, online records show.
According to authorities, Chemirmir posed as a maintenance or healthcare worker to get access to victims’ home. Harris’ death fit his alleged M.O.: Smother the women in order to steal their valuables. Receipts allegedly showed him selling the jewelry that had belonged to victims. Cellphone tower records put him nearby the victims’ homes during the killings, an FBI agent reportedly testified.
“He picks out women he knows are too weak to resist,” prosecutor Jerry Varney reportedly said. “You know now that to him the women who are matriarchs, who are grandmother focal points of family, are just walking dollar signs.”
But one of those women survived, authorities said. Though Mary Bartel passed away in 2020, jurors in the first Harris trial got to hear her speak through a previous deposition.
“My eyes were just fixated on these green, rubber gloves that I saw,” she reportedly said. “He said, ‘Don’t fight me. Lie on the bed.’ So I did as he said because I knew I could not overpower him physically.”
Defense lawyer Kobby Warren reportedly argued in the first Harris murder trial that reasonable doubt was “rampant” throughout the case, with no evidence putting Chemirmir at the crime.
Chemirmir told The Dallas Morning News in a report last month that he would be acquitted in all 18 murder cases.
“I am not a killer,” he said.
[Mugshot via Dallas County Jail]
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