DA: No plea offer to suspected Haruka Weiser killer


Highlights

Meechaiel Criner, who was 17 at the time of the crime, faces life in prison if convicted.

His murder trial is set for August, at the earliest.

Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore won’t offer a plea deal to a teen accused in the death of University of Texas freshman Haruka Weiser nearly a year ago, the DA has told the American-Statesman.

In an interview, Moore said she thinks it is necessary to take 18-year-old Meechaiel Criner to trial in the death of Weiser, who was found dead on the UT campus in April.

“We want a trial, and we aren’t going to plea bargain it,” she said. “I think Haruka Weiser’s killer deserves punishment to the fullest extent of the law.”

Prosecutors frequently offer plea deals to defendants in some violent crime cases, sparing victims’ families from a lengthy trial.

Criner’s trial was initially set for this month, but state District Judge David Wahlberg has since moved it to August, at the earliest.

Criner attorney Ariel Payan said Thursday afternoon that his client is not interested in a plea offer.

“His position has been that he didn’t do it,” he said.

Because he was 17 years old at the time of the 18-year-old University of Texas student’s death, Criner isn’t eligible for the death penalty, but he faces life in prison if convicted. He had originally been charged with murder, but the capital murder charge includes the other offenses he is alleged to have committed during the crime.

In addition to sexual assault, the indictment accuses Criner of kidnapping and robbing Weiser. Criner’s arrest affidavit said he was found while burning items in an abandoned building, and some of those items, such as college coursework, likely belonged to Weiser.

Police have said Criner attacked Weiser, a theater and dance major from Portland, Ore., as she was walking to her campus dormitory. Her body was found more than a day later by Waller Creek behind the UT alumni center, near San Jacinto Boulevard and East 23rd Street.



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