A man accused of killing 22 Dallas-area women is set to go on trial in the death of one of them after being convicted of murder in the death of another earlier this year.
The trial of capital murder Billy Chemirmir, 49, in the death of 87-year-old Mary Brooks is scheduled to begin Monday in Dallas. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole after being found guilty in April of the drowning death of 81-year-old Lou Thi Harris. If convicted in Brooks’ death, he would face a second sentence of life in prison without parole. He maintains his innocence.
His first trial over Harris’ death ended in a mistrial last November when the court deadlocked.
In the years since his 2018 arrest, police across the Dallas area have re-examined the deaths of other elderly people who were ruled natural — even as families raised the alarm over the missing jewelry. This summer four categories were added.
Dallas County prosecutors decided to seek two life sentences rather than the death penalty when they tried Cemirmir in two of the 13 homicide cases against him in the county. Prosecutors in neighboring Collin County have not said whether they will try any of the nine murder cases against Cemirmir.
Chemirmir’s arrest began in March 2018 when a 91-year-old woman told police a man forced his way into her apartment at an independent living community, tried to suffocate her with a pillow and took her jewelry.
Police said when they found Chemirmir the next day in the parking lot of his apartment complex. She was holding jewelry and cash and had just thrown away a large red jewelry box. Documents in the box led them to the home of Harris, who was found dead in her bedroom, lipstick smeared on her pillow.
In a videotaped interview with police, Chemirmir told a detective that he made money by buying and selling jewelry and that he had also worked as a caretaker and security guard.
Most of the people Chemirmir is accused of killing lived in apartments in independent living communities for the elderly. The women he is accused of killing in private homes include the widow of a man he cared for while working as a home carer.
Loren Adair Smith, whose 91-year-old mother is among those charged in Chemirmir’s murder, will be among the many victims’ relatives attending the trial, which she said brings “a huge bag of mixed emotions.” CBS DFW reported.
“At the same time as we have that feeling of dread, we’re really happy to come back and finish this chapter,” Smith said.
During a phone interview from jail earlier this year, Chemirmir denied all charges against him and told the Dallas Morning News that he’s “100 percent sure I’m not going to jail.”
“I’m not a murderer,” Cemirmir told the paper. “I’m not at all what they say I am. I’m a very innocent person. I wasn’t raised that way. I grew up (raised) in a good family. I’ve had no problems all my life.”