AUSTIN, Texas – A jury on Friday convicted a 20-year-old man in 2016, the slaying of a University of Texas freshman on campus.
Meechaiel Criner was found guilty of capital murder in the death of 18-year old Haruka Weiser. Criner, a foster care runaway at the time of the murder, received an automatic life sentence. Because he was 17 at the time of the incident, he was not eligible for the death penalty.
He is eligible for parole after 40 years.
Weiser, a dance major from Portland, Oregon, was on her way to her dorm room after a rehearsal, when she was strangled and sexually assaulted.
In a victim impact statement, Weiser’s father, Dr. Thomas Weiser, said he believed that Weiser would have killed others had he not been arrested and charged in the death of his daughter.
“She was the first victim in what you had hoped for on a long-term unsolved murders,” he said.
Weiner said the instructions Criner left behind on the killing of kept that from happening.
“I think you are confused with the wrong girl that night,” Weiser said.
Shortly before Weiser’s death, a man with a bandana around his neck, is seen on surveillance video following her on a bicycle. The next morning, detectives found an orange bandana and Weiser’s belongings in a trash can on the vacant building. Prosecutors also showed the jury a selfie of Criner wearing an orange bandana.
Glasses found at the crime scene corresponds to the model, the style and the prescription of glasses worn by Criner, according to the testimony of two eye experts.
In his own testimony, Criner denied killing the woman, more denied that he had ever seen from her. He said that the night Weiser died, he went to a hospital to charge his mobile phone and tablet and then slept in an empty building.
Criner admitted it looked bad that the police found him in the vacant building with items that belong to Weiser, including a boat, he was burning in a makeshift fire. He also had her schoolwork, and telephone, prosecutors said. Criner said that he had the goods on a trash can.
Lawyer Ariel Payan said evidence shows Criner was using his computer, tablet around the time of Weiser’s death. The operating system of the device was carried out from 8:43 to 9:33 a.m., according to testimony. Weiser was killed about 9:40 a.m. Prosecutors say that no one made use of the tablet at the time was employed, is evident in the absence of internet searches, or files to be accessible during that window of time.