Court order announced in case of man accused of 18 deaths in Texas
Dallas — A Texas judge on Friday declared a trial error in the first murder case against a man accused of killing 18 elderly women in the Dallas area over two years.
Judge Raquel Jones delivered the verdict when the jury was deadlocked after deliberating since Thursday afternoon in the murder case that accused Billy Kimmermere in the death of 81-year-old Lou Thi Harris.
The poor trial raises questions about how prosecutors will continue to hear cases against Kimmer, who authorities have accused of being a prolific killer who exploits the elderly. The Dallas County District Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a series of notes to the court on Friday, the 12 jurors said they “reached a hopeless dead end 11 to one” on the case. It was not clear which verdict the majority of the jurors upheld. Jones initially resisted the declaration of a mistrial, repeatedly ordering the jury to continue deliberations.
Kimmer’s lawyers rested their case without calling any witnesses or providing evidence, and the 48-year-old did not testify in his own defense. They dismissed the evidence against their client as “more quantity than quality” and maintained that prosecutors had not established Chemirmir’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Kimmermere was arrested in March 2018 after 91-year-old Marie-Anise Bartell said a man had broken into her apartment in an independent seniors’ community in the Dallas suburb of Plano.
When police tracked Kimmer to his next apartment after the attack on Bartle, he was carrying jewelry and cash. Documents in a large red jewelry box say he threw them away, drove them to a house in Dallas, where Harris died in her bedroom, lipstick smeared on her pillow.
After his arrest, authorities announced that they would begin reviewing hundreds of deaths, indicating the possibility that a serial killer had been stalking the elderly. Over the following years, the number of people accused of killing Kimmer increased.
For the families of most of the women accused of murder, they learned months or years after the death of their loved ones that the authorities believed they had been murdered. Those families were perplexed about the sudden death of their older but healthy, active loved ones, and in many cases, submitted police reports when missing jewelry was found posthumously.
Bartel died in 2020, but jurors heard from her during the trial through a recorded statement. She said she did not remember the details of the appearance of the man who attacked her but said she knew she was in mortal danger as soon as she opened her door.
“My eyes were only focused on these green rubber gloves I saw. Bartle said in the video…I knew right away when I saw these two green rubber gloves, number one, I shouldn’t have opened the door, number two, my life was in grave danger.”
She said she tried to push the door to close but was overpowered. ‘He said, ‘Don’t fight me,’ said Bartel, ‘I’ll lie in bed.’
Bartle described a pillow smashed in her face and her attacker “used all his weight to keep me from breathing”. Kimmer was accused of attempted premeditated murder in the Bartel attack.
Jurors watched a surveillance video from Walmart showing that Harris and Schimmer were in the store at the same time, just hours before she was found dead.
Most of the victims were killed in communities living independently of the elderly, where Kimmermere allegedly made his way into apartments or impersonated a handyman. He is also accused of murdering women in private homes, including the widow of a man who took care of him in his job as a home caregiver.
Harris’ brother-in-law, Richard Reinhart, testified that the jewelry box found in the trash when Kimmermere was arrested belonged to his mother-in-law, as did many pieces of jewelry found at the time.
Evidence presented showed that Kimmer also owned several $2 banknotes at the time, and Reinhart testified that his mother-in-law liked to give them as gifts.
Police also said a set of keys found with Kimmermere when he was arrested opened the front doors of Harris’ home.
Jurors also heard about the murder of 87-year-old Mary Brooks, who was found dead at her home in Richardson in January 2018. Herz was one of 18 Schimmer who was charged.
Prosecutor Glenn Fitzmartin said Brooks’ death was originally called a natural death, but after the investigation that followed Kimmermere’s arrest, the coroner changed the cause of death to homicide.
Fitzmartin said that Chemirmir also followed Brooks back home from the same Walmart Harris he had before her death. Her daughter, Anne Brooks, testified that after her mother’s death, she lost her mother’s safe, as was most of her jewelry, including the wedding rings and coral necklace she had always worn.
Shammir, who immigrated to the United States from Kenya, became a permanent resident of the United States in 2007.
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