UT murder suspect will not be offered a plea deal, DA says

Meechaiel Criner (Travis County Jail Photo)
Meechaiel Criner (Travis County Jail Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Travis County district attorney says they will not be offering any kind of plea deal to Meechaiel Criner, the teenager charged with capital murder in the death of University of Texas at Austin student Haruka Weiser.

Criner, 18, pleaded not guilty in the case. Because he was 17 years old at the time of the homicide, Criner is not eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

Over the past few months, there have been numerous back-and-forths between the prosecution and defense attorney over the delay in processing of DNA evidence in the case. In December, Criner’s attorney, Ariel Payan, says he was still waiting on DNA results.

“There was genetic material found on the body of Ms. Weiser that was not hers. That is why we are all anxiously awaiting the DNA results. It is crucial to this case for the state and defense,” Payan told KXAN in December.

On the evening of April 3, 2016, Weiser called her friend as she was leaving the drama building at UT to say she was coming home, but she was never seen alive again. Her body was found April 5 in Waller Creek. Police said there were obvious signs of trauma to her body and evidence of sexual assault. 

Police made the link to Criner after the Austin Fire Department alerted them to a trash fire the following day at 2900 Medical Arts Street, which is just off campus. When firefighters arrived, they found Criner, who had a woman’s bicycle in his possession, as well as a small blue duffel bag that resembles one owned by Haruka.

Court records indicate Criner is scheduled for another court appearance at the end of the month.

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