Billy Chemirmir, the man charged with killing 22 elderly North Texas women over a 2-year span, was found guilty of capital murder Friday in the 2018 death of 87-year-old Mary Brooks.
It's Chemirmir's second murder conviction and third capital murder trial. His first trial, in the smothering death of 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris, ended in a mistrial last November when the jury deadlocked. He was retried and found guilty in April.
Friday's conviction is a second automatic sentence of life without parole.
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Jurors began deliberations just before 11:30 Friday morning and returned the unanimous verdict in less than 30 minutes.
“We are so thrilled that this defendant will never be able to hurt any other family again,” said Ann Brooks, daughter of victim Mary Brooks. “Our beloved mother Mary Sue, her life is over and her jewelry is gone, but her love and her memories will live in us forever.”
In closing arguments Friday, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot said Chemirmir made a living off of killing people to steal their jewelry.
"This is a conscious, dedicated effort to stalk, surveil, steal kill and sell," Creuzot said.
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Chemirmir's defense insisted the state did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, urging jurors to simply 'follow the law.'
Chemirmir has maintained his innocence. His attorney entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf Monday but did not call any witnesses to testify in his defense -- just as they did in the first and second trials.
CHARGES AGAINST BILLY CHEMIRMIR
Chemirmir faces 11 more capital murder cases in Dallas County, but no trial dates have been set. Prosecutors in Collin County haven’t yet said if they will try any of their nine capital murder cases against Chemirmir, who has maintained his innocence.
Following Friday's verdict, Creuzot told members of the media his office will be dismissing the remaining cases against Chemirmir, given Friday’s conviction.
“Mr. Chemirmir will die in the penitentiary,” said Creuzot. “That was my goal. I’ve stated it and I said we’re going to do this twice, to accomplish it, and here we are.”
Creuzot says his office prosecuted their ‘strongest’ cases in terms of evidence.
NBC 5 asked the district attorney why his office opted not to seek the death penalty in this case.
“Because someone gets a death sentence doesn’t mean they’ll be executed,” he said.
Creuzot pointed to Darlie Routier, the Rowlett mother convicted of murdering her young sons in 1996 and sentenced to death.
“She’s never had a death date set and that case occurred in the mid-1990s,” he said.
The Collin County District Attorney's Office on Friday told NBC 5 it had 'no comment' on whether it plans to try Chemirmir.
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.
DNA EVIDENCE PRESENTED
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.