New trial denied for convicted murderer Meechaiel Criner

A new trial will not be held for convicted murderer Meechaiel Criner. Last month, Criner's defense team filed for a new trial after they claimed new evidence was found. Tuesday, a judge denied that motion.

Criner was found guilty this summer over the death of UT student Haruka Weiser in 2016. Criner’s defense attorneys found evidence related to his computer but not in time for the trial this summer.

Criner entered the same courtroom where he was found guilty of murder just a few months ago. This time, his defense attorneys were hopeful newly-found evidence would spark a new trial. “The data contained in the computer does constitute newly found evidence,” said Judge David Wahlberg with the 167th criminal district court.

In April 2016 Weiser was found dead in Waller Creek on campus. In July of this year a jury found Criner guilty of the murder. He was sentenced to life in prison. In September his defense asked for a new trial when they claimed they found data on Criner's computer which might help his case. “I recessed the case in order to consider all of that evidence and arguments of council,” said Wahlberg.

On Tuesday, the judge gave his thoughts on the new evidence. “After carefully considering all of this it's my opinion that the evidence relating to the data on this computer is basically nothing more than a rabbit trail,” said Wahlberg.

The data on Criner's computer showed activity the day of the murder. “It basically relates to a time frame where Mr. Criner was not in view of various surveillance cameras. Indicated that whatever activity was conducted on this computer had to have been conducted by Mr. Criner at a time when someone else was riding the bicycle which simply does not logically follow,” said Wahlberg.

The judge went on to say, even if this was shown to the jury during the trial it would not have changed the outcome. 

Criner was escorted out of the room but not before saying thanks.

Originally Criner's defense also filed for a new trial due to jury misconduct but then dropped those allegations. After the hearing, Criner's defense attorney said he was not surprised by the judge's decision.

Criner was sentenced to life in prison with the option for parole in 40 years.