breaking news

US government shuts down; Dems, GOP blame each other

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.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

US government shuts down; Dems, GOP blame each other
US government shuts down; Dems, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunction. Last-minute negotiations crumbled as Senate Democrats blocked a four-week stopgap...
Peace be with you, but no touching: Flu season alters mass in this state
Peace be with you, but no touching: Flu season alters mass in this state

Widespread influenza across Maine has prompted the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland to alter some traditions to keep parishioners healthy. The diocese announced Thursday that it's suspending the sharing of consecrated wine during communion and holding hands during the Lord's Prayer. The diocese is also discouraging parishioners from shaking hands...
Texas joins legal battle against tree firm blamed in 2011 Bastrop fire
Texas joins legal battle against tree firm blamed in 2011 Bastrop fire

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Friday joined hundreds of other people in suing a tree-trimming company they blame for the 2011 fire that ravaged Bastrop State Park and Bastrop County. Asplundh Tree Expert Co., the lawsuit argues, diverted crews away from tree-trimming along the power lines it was responsible...
TRAFFIC UPDATE: All lanes of I-35 in Buda now open after crash, police say 
TRAFFIC UPDATE: All lanes of I-35 in Buda now open after crash, police say 

7:15 p.m. update: The crash has been cleared and all lanes of northbound Interstate 35 are now open, Buda officials said. 7:05 p.m. update: No major injuries have been reported in a crash that has shut down most of northbound Interstate 35 in Buda, city officials said Friday evening.  Three vehicles were involved in the wreck, officials said....
U.S. judge orders fixes to ‘still broken’ Texas foster care system

The Texas foster care system remains broken and continues to place children at risk, a federal judge ruled Friday, adding that state officials have shown a “troubling unwillingness” to fix problems the court had identified in a similar 2015 order. Overruling numerous objections raised by lawyers for Texas, U.S. District Judge Janis Graham...
More Stories