Retrial begins in 2009 Cedar Park murder case

The trial of 38-year-old Crispin Harmel is scheduled to begin this week in the 2009 death of 27-year-old Jessika Kalaher in Cedar Park. (Photo courtesy: Williamson County Sheriff's Office)

Details of a 2009 Cedar Park murder case will be heard again this week in a Williamson County courtroom. Crispin Harmel is being retried in the death of Jessika Kalaher after the first effort ended in a mistrial. Kalaher’s supporters are hoping to see more of a focus on the victim this time around.

Kalaher had no idea a late night trip to buy food for her dog would be her last outing. But it was in a Walmart parking lot that she encountered someone who would assault her, strangle her and leave her for dead.

Back in 2009 Kalaher was an aspiring teacher. She had just graduated from Texas State, but hiring freezes at area schools at the time meant she would work in retail while she waited for her dream job. Prosecutors say Crispin Harmel spoiled that dream by picking Kalaher at random from the parking lot.

It would be five years before Harmel would be brought to trial, something former Williamson County Commissioner Lisa Birkman can relate to. She explains, “My grandmother unfortunately was murdered in 1990 and it took 16 years for them to find the murderer and bring him to justice."

Harmel's trial ended in a mistrial because of a prosecution mistake. The error would cost then-District Attorney Jana Duty her job come election time, but it left the case without closure. Birkman adds, “Everything that went on with the district attorney in this case is unfortunate but it took away from the entire justice aspect in my view."

Now -- nearly nine years after the murder happened a new jury will hear the retrial to try to bring this case to a close.

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