New information about teen suspected in murder of Haruka Weiser

We are learning more about how UT murder suspect Meechaiel Criner got to Austin. A Georgetown Police Officer actually drove him to a hospital.

On March 23rd Berry Creek Food Mart employee Manoj Nepal says a homeless man, who we now know to be UT murder suspect Meechaiel Criner, came into the Georgetown store.

"He look like not a bad guy but slow. He was sleeping in the chair and I told him to stay outside," said Nepal.
Nepal says Criner hung around the store for hours as he was looking for a ride to Austin.

An off duty Georgetown officer stopped by and Nepal asked him to help the man. According to Georgetown assistant police chief Cory Tchida without homeless resource centers in Georgetown, the officer decided to go home to retrieve his personal vehicle to take Criner to Austin.

Criner asked for medical help as he had blisters on his feet. The officer dropped him off at an emergency room.

Tchida says the officer had no idea the homeless man he helped was the same person charged with the April 3rd murder of u-t student Haruka Weiser until investigators called him.

On Friday, store employees and customers were surprised to hear the local connection.

"it was totally shocking. He didn't look like the type to commit crime," said Nepal.

"Wow. What I don't understand is why young boy had to result to a killing after someone helped him like he did," said customer Gary Kinsey.

Tchida sent FOX 7 the following statement:

“Our officer and his wife are both very civically minded people. Our officer is routinely volunteering for his community outside of his profession as a police officer. His attempt to help Mr. Criner is simply an example and extension of spirit of trying to help one’s fellow man.”

Criner's attorney, who spoke on camera about the case for the first time, says his client told him about his travels to town.

"He was walking to Austin is my understanding from Killeen," said Ariel Payan.

Ariel Payan also addressed Criner's mental state after arrest.

"He was confused, very polite. Didn't really understand what was going on. But he was able to answer questions," Payan.

With a history in the foster care system and psychiatric treatments, Payan says mental health will be an issue going forward. Criner is currently in the medical ward at the Travis County jail.

For the officer who helped him, questions of "what if" remain.

Payan says DNA testing is underway at DPS. He is anxious to see those results.

The next court date is scheduled for June 8th.

Haruka Weiser's funeral will be held on Saturday in her home state of Oregon.

FOX 7's Noelle Newton spoke in length with Payan.

Payan says that Criner's confused state hasn't improved and that competency evaluations have begun.

Criner is held in the medical ward at the jail. The next court date is June 8th.

Meantime Weiser will be laid to rest this weekend in Oregon. Her funeral will be on April 23 at a Catholic church in her hometown of Beaverton which is near Portland. The freshman was on a full ride dance scholarship at the University of Texas.

Weiser's family has set up a memorial fund. The money raised will go to a scholarship for studenst in artistic studies. You can donate by going here.


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