A suspected serial killer returns to court on Monday in Texas to face a jury for the second time in the 2018 murder of 88-year-old Mary Brooks.
The jury deadlocked last November at the first trial, but Billy Chemirmir, 49, has already been convicted of capital murder in the death of another elderly woman, 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole in April and faces the same punishment if he’s convicted of Brooks’ death.
Chemirmir is charged with killed 22 women roughly between 2016 and his arrest in 2018, and the charges are mounting as police take another look at unsolved cases that fit the pattern — older people whose deaths had been considered natural, often accompanied by missing jewelry or other times. Four new indictments were handed up this summer, The Associated Press reported.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, prosecutors say Chemirmir often posed as a maintenance worker to gain access to the homes, and many of the attacks took place at senior living facilities.
But one of his victims in March 2018 survived. Mary Annis Bartel, 91 at the time, told investigators a man had forced his way into her apartment, tried to smother her with a pillow, and stole her jewelry. When police found Chemirmir the next day, they also found items that led them to Harris’s home, where they found her dead in the bedroom with lipstick on her pillow.
Bartel, who died in 2020, described the attack in a taped interview that has been played at Chemirmir’s previous trials.
Brooks was found dead two months before Chemirmir was arrested. Her family didn’t believe that she’d died of natural causes — her grandson, David Cuddihee, testified during the first trial that although his grandmother sometimes used a cane, she was healthy and active.
“She would walk to church, she would walk to the dentist down the street,” Cuddihee said.
It’s unclear when or if any of the remaining 20 murder cases pending against Chemirmir will go to trial. Regardless of whether they do, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot noted, Chemirmir is “going to die in the penitentiary.”
Chemirmir has pleaded not guilty.
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[Featured image: FILE – Billy Chemirmir/(Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool, File)]