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Retrial Begins For Suspected Texas Serial Killer Who Allegedly Preyed On Elderly
Once again, Billy Chemirmir is on trial for the capital murder of 81-year-old Lu Harris. She is one of 18 alleged victims in whose deaths he has been indicted.
The retrial for a suspected Texas serial killer accused of targeting elderly women is underway.
Opening statements began on Monday in the trial for Billy Chemirmir, 49, who faces a capital murder charge in the death of Lu Harris, 81, KDFW reports.
A mistrial was declared in November in the same case, after the 12 presiding jurors said they were deadlocked 11 to 1. Harris' 2018 slaying is one of 18 capital murder charges — all involving elderly women — on which Chemirmir had been indicted. Prosecutors say he targeted many North Texas senior living facility residents while either working as health care staff or impersonating maintenance personnel at the facilities. Many of the deaths were initially listed as due to natural causes.
Lead Prosecutor Glen Fitzmartin told the jurors on Monday that the evidence against Chemirmir is overwhelming.
"The keys to Lu Harris' house are in his possession," he said, KDFW reports. "The actual keys to her house are in his possession when he's arrested."
The prosecution has already introduced recorded testimony of other alleged victims, including survivor Mary Bartel, 91, who Chemirmir allegedly tried to smother to death in 2018.
"He said, ‘Don't fight me. Lie on the bed,’" Bartel said in that recording.
Just before police arrested him in connection with that alleged incident, they caught him throwing a jewelry box into a dumpster, which led them to Harris’ body.
On Tuesday, Harris' son-in-law, Richard Rinehart, was called to describe in the detail the jewelry he knew her to wear regularly, which investigators say was found in Chemirmir’s possession, NBC DFW reports.
The defense chose not to make an opening statement.
In addition to the 18 deaths with which he has been formally charged, investigators have also allegedly linked Chemirmir to six additional deaths between 2016 and 2018, the Dallas Morning News reported.
In March, Chemirmir told the Dallas Morning News that he is “not a killer.”
“I am a very innocent person,” he maintained.