DA: No plea deal for sus­pect in UT stu­dent’s killing

Ac­cused should stand trial, she says; sus­pect’s lawyer says that’s fine.

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Tony Plo­het­ski tplo­het­ski@states­man.com Criner

Travis County District At­tor­ney Mar­garet Moore won’t of­fer a plea deal to a teen ac­cused in the death of Univer­sity of Texas fresh­man Haruka Weiser nearly a year ago, the DA has told the Amer­i­can-States­man.

In an in­ter­view, Moore said she thinks it is nec­es­sary to take 18-year-old Meechaiel Criner to trial in the death of Weiser, who was found dead on the UT cam­pus in April.

“We want a trial, and we aren’t go­ing to plea bar­gain it,” she said. “I think Haruka Weiser’s killer de­serves pun­ish­ment to the fullest ex­tent of the law.”

Prose­cu­tors fre­quently of­fer plea deals to de­fen­dants in some vi­o­lent crime cases, spar­ing vic­tims’ fam­i­lies from a lengthy trial.

Criner’s trial was ini­tially set for this month, but state District Judge David Wahlberg has since moved it to Au­gust, at the ear­li­est.

Criner at­tor­ney Ariel Payan said Thurs­day after­noon that his client is not in­ter­ested in a plea of­fer.

“His po­si­tion has been that he didn’t do it,” he said.

Be­cause he was 17 years old at the time of the 18-year-old Univer­sity of Texas stu­dent’s death, Criner isn’t eligible for the death penalty, but he faces life in prison if con­victed. He had orig­i­nally been charged with mur­der, but the cap­i­tal mur­der charge in­cludes the other of­fenses he is al­leged to have com­mit­ted dur­ing the crime.

In ad­di­tion to sex­ual as­sault,

Fresh­man Haruka Weiser’s body was found April 5, 2016, near Waller Creek.

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