Texarkana man found guilty of 2nd Degree Murder in 2016 death of U.T. Austin student

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Haruka Weiser and Meechaiel Criner 7-20-18_1532118462592.JPG.jpg

(KXAN) – The runaway Texarkana teenager accused of killing University of Texas at Austin coed Haruka Weiser, has been found guilty of capital murder.

Meechaiel Criner, 20, will spend the rest of his life in prison. Because he was 17 years old at the time of Weiser’s murder, he is not eligible for the death penalty.

Investigators said Weiser, an 18-year-old dance major from Portland, Ore., was walking back to her dorm on April 3, 2016, when she was attacked and killed by Criner.

An autopsy revealed Weiser had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

Prosecutors she suffered injuries to her face, and it appeared her head was beaten against a hard object, possibly a boulder, and strangled to death with a yellow nylon strap.

During closing arguments, Elizabeth Winkeler, prosecutor, argued even if the jury had been divided on the robbery, kidnapping or aggravated sexual assault leading up to the murder, they could still find him guilty, calling the evidence against Criner “damming.” 

“You should know, he committed this horrific and brutal murder and rape, just like his fantasies,” Winkeler said.

It took the jury of seven women and five men a total of 10 and a half hours to come to their verdict.

The jury met Friday morning at 8 a.m. and elected to work through lunch. They deliberated for four and a half hours on Thursday after listening to hours of closing arguments.

Elizabeth Winkeler, prosecutor, argued even if the jury had been divided on the robbery, kidnapping or aggravated sexual assault leading up to the murder, they could still find him guilty, calling the evidence against Criner “damming.” 

Weiser’s murder sparked a security review on campus, which recommended improved lighting and a larger campus police force, among other changes. 

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