Chemirmir Day 2 Focuses on Woman's Death, Property Found on Defendant

Chemirmir faces life in prison without parole if he's convicted of fatally smothering Lu Thi Harris

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Tuesday marked the first full day of testimony in the retrial of 49-year-old Billy Chemirmir, a man charged with killing 18 older women -- 13 in Dallas County and five in nearby Collin County -- over a 2-year span.

Tuesday morning's testimony focused on the police officers who found 81-year-old Lu Thi Harris dead inside her home and the pillow with smeared lipstick prosecutors believed was used as a murder weapon.

The detective also described the personal items, including jewelry and a set of house keys belonging to Harris, that were found on Chemirmir during his arrest.

Harris' son-in-law, Richard Rinehart, took the stand to talk about her life.

"Oh, she was fun," Rinehart said. "Your typical stereotype of the mother-in-law didn’t apply. She was so fun to be around."

Known to friends and family as "Kim", Rinehart told the court how Harris was raised in Vietnam. She married, had three children and opened a restaurant and bar in Saigon. Her first husband died during the Vietnam War.

She met American engineer William Harris while he was working in Vietnam for oil company Cal-Tex. The couple married in 1974.

Rinehart testified during the fall of Saigon, Lu "Kim" Harris was rescued from the roof of the U.S. Embassy by helicopter. The couple lived overseas before Harris retired from Cal-Tex and they moved to Dallas.

Describing her generous nature, Rinehart said she loved gifting $2 bills to friends and family. He also detailed the jewelry she always wore that was found on Chemirmir during his arrest.

Prosecutors also played surveillance video taken on the afternoon of Harris' death.

It shows Chemirmir and Harris checking out from a Walmart at Coit and Arapaho at the same time. Prosecutors believe Chemirmir stalked Harris and followed her home.

Just before lunch, the state entered into evidence Chemirmir's interview with police the night of his arrest. Prosecutors noted they most likely will not play the hourslong interview for the jury, unlike in the first trial.

Chemirmir faces life in prison without parole if he's convicted of fatally smothering Harris. Chemirmir has been charged with capital murder in all 18 of the women's deaths. But he's currently only scheduled to stand trial in Harris' 2018 death.

Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot, who isn't seeking the death penalty for Harris' killing, has said he plans to try Chemirmir for at least one more death, though he hasn't said whose.


Chemirmir's second trial began Monday afternoon after being delayed by several hours after a juror did not show up on time.

Once it started Chemirmir's attorney entered a not guilty plea for him. Chemirmir has maintained that he's innocent. The first jury to hear a case against him deadlocked last fall.

Prosecutor Glen Fitzmartin told jurors during his opening statements that they will also hear evidence that Chemirmir attacked a 91-year-old woman the day before Harris was killed and that he killed an 87-year-old woman about six weeks earlier.

The defense declined to make an opening statement on Monday.

NBC 5's Katy Blakey recaps the first day of the retrial of Billy Chemirmir, who pleaded innocence Monday in a trial that was delayed by several hours after a juror did not show up on time.

Most of the people Chemirmir is accused of killing were found dead in their apartments at independent living communities for older people, where he allegedly forced his way in 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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