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Judge tosses DNA evidence in murder of UT student Haruka Weiser

Austin Police say Haruka Weiser's (right) body was found with obvious trauma and evidence of sexual assault. Meechaiel Criner (left) is charged accused of killing Weiser as she walked back to her dorm. (Criner photo: Austin Police Department, Weiser Photo: Facebook / MGN)

AUSTIN, Texas (KEYE) - A high profile local murder trial will have to proceed without DNA evidence. Prosecutors had hoped to use high-tech DNA results to try to tie Meechail Criner to the 2016 death of UT freshman Haruka Weiser, but the judge hearing the case ruled that's not going to happen.

Wednesday was supposed to be a third full day of debate in this pretrial hearing on whether certain DNA evidence would be admissible, but the judge let both sides know he had heard enough.

For two days the evidence presented to Travis County District Court Judge David Walhberg had been detailed and at times technical. Then he let them know it had also been very thorough. Defense attorney Ariel Payan says, “Basically he determined there was sufficient evidence for him to make a decision to exclude this particular evidence in this particular case and so that was his ruling."

The judge was already unhappy about some missing evidence, original printed DNA findings that prosecutors were unable to produce. Payan adds, “And then there was some procedural problems with what was done and that basically was the final straw for the judge."

The judge's ruling against admitting the DNA evidence means the jury also won't hear concerns being raised about the move to automated DNA analysis. Payan explains, “Because you can't cross-examine a box and that's his right to cross-examine his accusers. And that's what they're doing: they're replacing a human being with a box and saying, 'Go ahead. Cross it.' And well he's not going to answer."

The inadmissibility of the DNA evidence isn't expected to shorten the trial which is still scheduled to start July 9.

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