Jury in Texas elderly deaths trial continues deliberations

A Texas jury continues to deliberate in the first murder case against a man charged with killing 18 older women in the Dallas area over a two-year span

A Texas jury continued deliberations Friday in the first murder case against a man charged with killing 18 older women in the Dallas area over a two-year span.

The jurors considering the capital murder charge against Billy Chemirmir in the death of 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris appeared to be at an impasse after closing arguments in the case ended Thursday.

In a note to the court Friday, the jurors said they were "hopelessly deadlocked 11 to one.” Dallas County Judge Raquel Jones has so far not granted motions for a mistrial from Chemirmir's lawyers and told the jury to continue deliberations.

Chemirmir’s attorneys rested their case without calling any witnesses or presenting evidence, and the 48-year-old didn’t testify in his own defense. They dismissed the evidence against their client as “quantity over quality” and assert that prosecutors had not proved Chemirmir’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutors earlier decided not to seek the death penalty on the capital murder count, meaning a conviction would result in an automatic sentence of life imprisonment without parole.

Chemirmir was arrested in March 2018 after 91-year-old Mary Annis Bartel said a man forced his way into her apartment at an independent living community for seniors in the Dallas suburb of Plano

When police tracked Chemirmir to his nearby apartment following the attack on Bartel, he was holding jewelry and cash. Documents in a large red jewelry box police say he had just thrown away led them to a Dallas home, where Harris was dead in her bedroom, lipstick smeared on her pillow.

After his arrest, authorities announced they’d begin reviewing hundreds of deaths, signaling the possibility that a serial killer had been stalking older people. Over the following years, the number of people Chemirmir was accused of killing grew.

Most of the victims were killed at independent living communities for older people, where Chemirmir allegedly forced his way into apartments or posed as a handyman. He’s also accused of killing women in private homes, including the widow of a man he had cared for in his job as an at-home caregiver.

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