Day six of Criner trial focuses on eyeglasses found at crime scene

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Photo Credit: Carlos Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

Attorneys in the trial of Meechaiel Criner, who was indicted on capital murder charges in connection with the death of dance freshman Haruka Weiser, focused Monday on a single pair of eyeglasses and the homeless shelter where Criner was found.

Multiple Austin Police Department detectives and crime scene specialists had previously testified to the jury about finding a pair of black eyeglasses near where Weiser’s body was found. 

Noelia Warren, store manager for an Eyemart Express in Killeen, testified Monday about comparing those glasses to the prescription her office sold to Criner. Warren said she recognized the frame and prescription of the glasses found at the crime scene as ones sold by her office.

“(The prescription) wasn’t exact, but that’s to be expected when we read glasses,” Warren said. “I think I read it a pinch stronger or a pinch weaker, but it was essentially the same.”

John Deapen, an optometrist with Budget Optical in Killeen, testified about giving an eye examination to Criner. Deapen said he recognized the prescription he wrote for Criner as the same prescription in the glasses found at the crime scene.

“It’s the prescription that I gave him,” Deapen said. “The reading that I took (to compare the differences between) these glasses was two degrees off, but that’s close enough.”

Defense attorneys questioned Deapan and Warren about the glasses found at the scene. The distance between the two lenses in the glasses at the scene was 12 millimeters different than the distance written in the prescription assigned to Criner by Deapan. This distance affects the fit of the glasses. 

Warren said this was likely human error when her office made the glasses.

“I wouldn’t allow a 5 millimeter mistake to leave my office,” Deapan said. “I think the customer would come back and be dissatisfied. They would immediately notice a difference.”

APD detective Anthony Nelson and former APD detective Ray Tynes testified about their visits to LifeWorks, the homeless shelter where police arrested Criner and then searched his possessions on April 7, 2016. Nelson testified he found boxer briefs at the shelter that were the same size and pattern as ones found in the abandoned building where Criner was picked up.

The same abandoned building also contained a motorcycle jacket and an orange bandana, which video technicians said the suspect was seen wearing on surveillance video as he walked toward Waller Creek in the same direction as a person prosecutors say was Weiser.

Tynes presented photos taken of Criner’s room which showed a stained copy of the book “All The Light We Cannot See,” which Weiser’s father had testified was in her possession before her death, and a laptop with a Portland sticker, which Weiser’s friends had testified was also in her possession before her death.

Tynes said he recognized orange shoes found in the same room as the ones worn by the suspect in surveillance video. Tynes also recognized a nylon strap found in a closet as similar to one from the crime scene that was used as a ligature around Weiser’s neck.

“Upon closer inspection, I would say that (the nylon strap) was a near match,” Tynes said. “The loose end of the ligature (from the crime scene) was a knot very similar, if not the same, as the one at LifeWorks.”