Criner prosecution wrapping up with graphic autopsy pictures

Tuesday, prosecutors continued to portray Meechaiel Criner as a violent murderer and as the man captured in UT security camera video. The images show an individual following a woman, believed to be UT freshman Haruka Weiser, down a path along Waller Creek in April of 2016. 

Travis county deputy medical examiner Kendall Crowns took the witness stand Tuesday morning and described for the jury the graphic autopsy report of Weiser. The images show her battered body.  According to Crowns, the official cause of death was strangulation with blunt force injuries to the head. Crowns admitted he could not tell the sequencing of the injuries, as to which came first, but he noted that a person who is strangled will lose consciousness in 10 to 15 seconds. It’s possible that Weiser was passed out, and still alive, when she was sexually assaulted, according to Crowns.

Prosecutors have already conceded that no viable DNA evidence was recovered from the crime scene. But the jury was told about something important found not far away. The discovery was made at a medical arts office complex where Criner had been staying. Firefighters had put out a warming fire and later gathered up clothing and possessions from Criner.  Several items were put in a trash can, which was placed at the bottom of an outside stairway. In the container, detectives have testified a yellow shirt from his high school was found and inside the shirt was a long strand of hair. 

Tuesday, DNA expert Gloria Demick testified about the lab analysis of the hair that was recovered. She told the jury, it was not a match to Criner and his relatives, but that Haruka Weiser and her family could not be excluded from being linked to it. That means that the hair most likely came from the UT freshman. Prosecutors have suggested the hair could have been transferred to the shirt during the attack along Waller creek.

The jury left early Tuesday because of a controversy regarding the admissibility of an e mail allegedly written by Criner. It was found on a laptop and thumb drive. It’s not known what's in the document, but defense attorneys don’t want the jury to see. The issue is expected to be resolved Wednesday morning.