After less than an hour of deliberations, jurors found a man guilty of capital murder for killing an elderly woman. For prosecutors, this just is one down, 17 to go.
Billy Chemirmir, 49, was indicted in 18 murder cases. He is accused of posing as a maintenance or healthcare worker to make his way into victims’ homes, smothering them to death, and taking their valuables. Chemirmir had the jewelry and keys of victim Lu Thi Harris, 81, during his arrest in 2018, authorities said.
The verdict came in Chemirmir’s retrial. Jurors in Dallas County, Texas, reached an impasse last November. They reportedly said one of them refused to deliberate.
Alleged serial killer #BillyChemirmir sits at defense table waiting for the start of his retrial for the murder of 81-year-old Lu Harris. Chemirmir is accused of posing as a healthcare worker or maintenance worker at elderly persons' homes. Harris was smothered w/pillow. pic.twitter.com/zlgaFQxt4t— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) April 25, 2022
Prosecutors’ second bite at the apple succeeded. They showed evidence that Chemirmir and Harris were at the same Walmart hours before the killing on March 20, 2018. He blended in, so that Harris did not realize he was tracking her.
They did not know one another, but prosecutors said that this was where Chemirmir hunted at least several victims for their money. He preyed on woman he believed could not resist, they said.
Though the capital murder charge was only about Harris’ death, the state managed to introduce evidence that Chemirmir separately killed Mary Brooks, 87, and attacked Mary Bartel, who initially survived thanks to her pacemaker but then died in 2020. Chemirmir had Harris’ jewelry, keys, and even $2 bills that she gave out as gifts, said prosecutors, who wanted to show that he did not merely just possess the items—he killed for them.
The defense did not call any witnesses for their case. Defense lawyer Kobby Warren said in closing arguments that the state had not proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, he said there was no evidence that Chemirmir had Brooks’ safe. Bartel could not identify the race of her attacker. (Chemirmir is Black.) Warren added that there was no evidence placing Chemirmir with Brooks at her retirement community on March 20, 2018.
Jurors didn’t agree. Now, prosecutors are moving forward on the other cases. Family members of the victims held a press conference after the conviction on Thursday.
“This is only the start,” said a man who identified himself as Dan. “We got a long way to go.”