Judge declares mistrial in Williamson County capital murder case


A judge granted a motion for mistrial Wednesday morning in the Crispin Harmel capital murder case.

State District Judge Rick Kennon said the defense did not have an opportunity for a fair trial because evidence came forward during the trial that had not been disclosed to defense lawyers beforehand.

Harmel, who is charged with capital murder in the death of Jessika Kalaher on Sept. 7, 2009, will now face a new trial. Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty said a new trial, which will be set by the judge, could begin in about three months.

Defense lawyer Ryan Deck made the motion for the mistrial Wednesday morning saying that prosecutors were able to find a new software system over the weekend that put timestamps on videotapes that are evidence in the case.

Prosecutors did not tell defense attorneys about the new software system that included the exact times that events occurred on the videos, Deck said. The crux of the defense’s case depended on a video that showed the car of the victim returning to a parking lot in Cedar Park in the early morning hours of Sept. 7, 2009, Deck said.

Defense attorneys had calculated from that video that Harmel left the victim an hour before her car arrived in the parking lot where she was later found dead inside her car. But prosecutors were able to show Tuesday, using the new software and timestamps, that Harmel left the victim a few minutes after her car arrived in the parking lot.

Deck said that he didn’t think Duty or prosecutor Mark Brunner did anything “underhanded.” But he said defense attorneys should have been given the video with timestamps before the trial began.

Brunner said prosecutors didn’t have video with timestamps before the trial began but were only able to figure out the new software that showed the times on the video with the help of Cedar Park detectives this past weekend.

Duty said she was disappointed by the judge’s ruling. She said defense attorneys had the video, which was taken from Walmart surveillance cameras and had the same opportunity to figure out the timestamps as prosecutors did.


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