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Man charged with killing 22 Dallas-area women gets 2nd conviction

A black man wearing glasses looks down while standing.
Shafkat Anowar / The Dallas Morning News
/
AP
Accused serial killer Billy Chemirmir enters during the fourth day of his third court trial at Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022.

Billy Chemirmir is charged with killing 22 women in the Dallas area over a two-year span. He was found guilty Friday in one of their deaths — his second murder conviction.

With the verdict, Billy Chemirmir, 49, automatically received a second sentence of life without parole, this time for the smothering death of 87-year-old Mary Brooks. He was already sentenced to life in prison without parole for an April conviction in the death of 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris. The local prosecutor decided not to seek the death penalty.

Chemirmir faces 11 more capital murder cases in Dallas County, but no trial dates have been set. Prosecutors in neighboring Collin County haven’t yet said if they will try any of their nine capital murder cases against Chemirmir, who has maintained his innocence.

Authorities allege he preyed on women who were older and whose deaths were initially found to be from natural causes, even as family members raised alarm bells about missing jewelry.

Most lived in apartments at independent living communities for older people. One woman who lived in a private home was the widow of a man Chemirmir cared for while working as an at-home caregiver.

Chemirmir told police that he made money by buying and selling jewelry, and that he had also worked as a caregiver and a security guard.

One woman’s survival of a March 2018 attack set Chemirmir’s arrest in motion. Mary Annis Bartel, then-91, told police a man forced his way into her apartment at an independent living community for seniors, tried to smother her with a pillow and took her jewelry.

The charges against Chemirmir grew as police across the Dallas area reexamined deaths. Many of the victims’ children have said they were left perplexed by the deaths at the time, as their mothers, though older, were still healthy and active. Four indictments were added this summer.

While jurors this week were deciding Chemirmir’s guilt only in Brooks’ death, they also heard evidence that led to his conviction in Harris’ death as well as details related to the death of 80-year-old Martha Williams. Prosecutors for the first time presented DNA evidence linking Chemirmir to one of the deaths — Williams’.

The jury also heard testimony that Chemirmir was in either in possession of jewelry and valuables belonging to the women or had offered pieces for sale and that cellphone records put him in the vicinity of the victims.

Before Bartel died in 2020, she described the attack in a taped interview that has been played at Chemirmir’s trials. She said the minute she opened her door and saw a man wearing green rubber gloves, she knew she was in “grave danger.”

Police testified they found Chemirmir the day after Bartel was attacked in the parking lot of his apartment complex holding jewelry and cash, having just thrown away a large red jewelry box. Documents in the jewelry box led them to the home of Harris, who was found dead in her bedroom, lipstick smeared on her pillow.

Evidence presented at trial showed that just hours before Harris was found dead, Chemirmir was at the Walmart where Harris was shopping.

When Brooks’ grandson had found her dead in her condo several weeks earlier, grocery bags from a trip to the same Walmart were sitting out on her counter. Surveillance video showed a car matching the description of Chemirmir’s pulling out just after Brooks and going in the same direction.

Ann Brooks testified that as family members went through her mother’s house after her death, they found that not only was a safe missing, but most of her jewelry, including wedding rings and a coral necklace she always wore, were gone.