By Andrea Lucia

PLANO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – When alleged serial killer Billy Chemirmir goes on trial next week, it’s expected to be for just one of the eighteen capital murder charges for which he’s been indicted.

Victims’ families say the Dallas County District Attorney’s office informed them it would focus on Lu Thi Harris, the last victim he’s accused of killing about an hour before his arrest.

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It’s the case in which the evidence against him appears to be strongest.

Plano police were staking out Chemirmir’s apartment when they say he pulled up and threw something in a dumpster. Inside it they found a jewelry box with Harris’ name.

In Chemirmir’s car, they say, were keys to her Dallas home, where officers would later discover her body.

Subpoenas show prosecutors intend to present fingerprint, cell phone, and video evidence.

The families of other victims will be watching, aware a conviction in this case may be the closest they ever get to seeing justice for their own loved ones.

“She was my best friend. She was a pistol,” said Lori Delahunty, of her mother Diane Delahunty, who she discovered dead on the floor of her Plano apartment.

“She was murdered December 3rd, 2017,” said Lori. “That image will be part of me from now until the day I die.”

Missing were the rings Diane always wore.

“Her engagement ring, her wedding ring,” Lori listed off. “I went and got the dog X-rayed, thinking maybe she ate them.”

It was months later Lori learned police suspected someone was attacking elderly women in their homes and robbing them. In March of 2018, they arrested Billy Chemirmir, who’s now indicted on 18 counts of capital murder.

As the number of victims in Dallas County began to mount, the DA’s office there took the lead, announcing it planned to seek the death penalty.

But this summer, DA John Creuzot changed strategy.

“It came out that Dallas County decided not to go after the death penalty,” said Lori. “It felt like a gut… a punch to the gut.”

Also surprised was Mary Jo Jennings, whose mother Leah Corken was killed.

“It’s a serial killer. You get the death penalty for a serial killer!” said Jennings.

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Victims’ families say they were told prosecutors would now pursue just two cases in two separate trials seeking two life sentences with no chance of parole. The first trial would focus solely on Harris’ murder. The second would likely focus solely on the murder of a woman named Mary Brooks.

“In effect, there will be no chance for Chemirmir to die anywhere except in a Texas prison,” reads a statement from the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.

“It certainly makes a lot of sense to me,” said retired judge Michael Snipes.

To defend Chemirmir in a death penalty case, his attorneys would present evidence from throughout his life, including his childhood in Kenya, a case that would take years longer to prepare.

“They would have to go over there. See if they could find family members and people that knew him as he was growing up or else they’re not doing their job,” said Snipes.

Victims’ families say they’ve ben told once two life sentences are secured the remaining Dallas County cases, as many as 8 capital murder counts, will be dismissed.

“If you get two life sentences in these cases without parole, what the point of continuing to do it?,” said Snipes.
Mary Jo says she understands.

“I do feel like there will be some closure in the next two weeks when I know he’s behind bars for the rest of his life,” she said.

But, some days, she still wakes up angry Chemirmir won’t be convicted for the extent of the crimes he’s believed to have committed.

“Not just one murder, not just two, all 18 murders he was indicted for,” she said

For Lori, it’s an insult.

“He gets to live out his life behind bars. That is such comfort, the fact that he gets to live out his life,” she said sarcastically. “Our loved ones didn’t get that chance.”

And while she expects to see Chemirmir convicted in the next two weeks, she know it won’t be for what happened to her mother, which will make it difficult to move on.

“How can you get closure?” she asks.

In Texas there are only two possible sentences for capital murder. Because the district attorney’s office isn’t seeking the death penalty, there will be sentencing portion of trial. A conviction would result in an automatic sentence of life in prison.

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