Watch CBS News

Evidence Tying Alleged Serial Killer Billy Chemirmir To Victim Lu Thi Harris Shown In Second Day Of Trial

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Jurors in the capital murder trial of alleged serial killer Billy Chemirmir were able to see the lipstick-stained pillow prosecutors argue he used to smother Lu Thi Harris.  Detective Casey Shelton, a homicide detective for the Dallas Police Department, testified it was found on her bed. A picture of the scene showed her Harris' body crumpled on the floor nearby.

Lu Thi Harris
Lu Thi Harris (credit: Harris family)

The second day of trial was marked by stark images of Harris' autopsy and the scene inside her home.

Evidence first seen Monday, when police testified they were found with Chemirmir during his arrest, reappeared Tuesday to form connections to Harris. Keys found in Chemirmir's car, for example, Detective Shelton testified, were able to open the door to Harris' locked front door.

Testimony from Harris' son in law, Richard Rinehart, though, was likely the memorable the moment, as it introduced jurors to the victim in the case.

"She was a very funny person. Very humorous. Very generous," said Rinehart.

He testified he stayed in touch with Harris, long after losing his wife to cancer.

"Most people hate their mother-in-law, but my mother in law was a hoot. She was very fun to be around," he said.

According to Rinehart, Harris grew up in Vietnam. She worked at a restaurant across the street from a Caltex office, where William Harris was stationed.The two met, married, and returned to the United States together.

Rinehart identified jewelry found on Chemirmir at the time of his arrest as belonging to Harris. Items included a necklace with her nickname, Kim, on it, and other pieces she can be seen wearing in pictures.

"Do you know any reason she'd get rid of these things?" asked lead prosecutor, Glen Fitzmartin.

"No, these were her personal items that she'd wear every day," responded Rinehart.

He testified he recognized her handwriting on an envelope Chemirmir had. Inside it were rare $2 bills that Rinehart said Harris had a habit of keeping on hand to give out as gifts.

"They brought her to life and showed her as our mothers were, just vibrant, living, wonderful people. So I was just so glad he was able to bring that to life," said Loren Adair Smith, whose mother Phyllis Payne was allegedly murdered by Chemirmir, as well.

Family members of some of the nearly two dozen other victims he's suspected of killing listened intently to the evidence presented in the second day of trial.

"Seeing the pillow case, seeing the murder weapon was difficult," said Shannon Dion, the daughter of Doris Gleason.

Lead prosecutor Glen Fitzmartin showed the pillow to former Dallas County medical examiner, Dr Travis Danielsen.  He testified an autopsy of Harris' body found evidence consistent with asphyxiation, which could have been caused by being smothered with a pillow.

"The manner of death was homicide," he said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.