Officer who investigated 2009 murder says ‘things were just not adding up’

Austin

Sgt. Larry Bond with the Cedar Park Police Department took to the stand for a third day Thursday morning, revealing insight into his investigation into the 2009 murder of Jessika Kalaher. Crispin Harmel is facing a retrial on charges of capital murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery.

After interviewing Harmel five days after Kalaher’s death on Sept. 7, 2009, Bond says he had a list of about 32 issues or concerns with what Harmel told him. “The primary concern after our investigation was moving forward, was that many things were just not adding up,” Bond said.

In an initial audio interview, Harmel tells Bond he and Kalaher met on a sex website and that she was a paying member since she messaged him, and only paying members can message people. Bond later said there were no credit or debit card records of Kalaher subscribing to any such site. The defense argued that Bond never verified you had to be a paying member to message people. However, after analyzing Kalaher’s cell phone and computer, detectives said she had never registered on any sex or dating website. Sgt. Bond addressed the issue in a follow-up interview with Harmel that happened Oct. 1, 2009, about three weeks after Kalaher’s death. 

“She has never, ever logged on to an adult dating or otherwise website that she could’ve met you on, ok?,” says Sgt. Bond to Harmel.

“That’s, that’s where I met her,” insists Harmel, responding to Sgt. Bond. 

Harmel went on to tell detectives he and Kalaher had consensual sex after meeting at Walmart. The state insists Harmel raped Kalaher. But the defense showed pictures of what appeared to be finger impressions on the headrest of the drivers seat of Kalaher’s car. They say the placement of the alleged finger impressions is consistent with the position Harmel said the two were in when they had consensual sex in the drivers seat.

In the video interview, Harmel told police Kalaher drove them back to the shopping center near Walmart after they had sex, but Bond said that didn’t make sense. Bond said Kalaher’s seat was pushed all the way back on the rails and her feet could not reach the gas or brakes. The defense argued Kalaher could’ve moved her own seat back. Earlier this week a witness said he saw Kalaher later that day out of her car bending over looking inside the car for something. 

In the video, Harmel also told detectives Kalaher started up her car and turned on her headlights after she dropped him off at the strip center as he was walking back to his truck. “I remember seeing like lights flash or whatever, you know headlights or whatever,” said Harmel to police. But surveillance video never shows the lights turn on or Kalaher’s car leave. Sgt. Bond also said there were no car keys in Kalaher’s vehicle; in fact, they never found her keys.

In the interview, Harmel said Kalaher lent him her debit card to get gas, and they agreed to meet at her work later that day so he could return the card. Harmel told detectives he drove up and down aisles at an HEB in Cedar Park, but he didn’t see Kalaher’s car at the time they were supposed to meet. Police say Kalaher never worked at an HEB in Cedar Park and surveillance video from the HEB he claimed to have gone to, did not show Harmel’s truck. 

Harmel later admitted he threw Kalaher’s debit card away when he learned police were looking for him. “I panicked and junked it,” said Harmel in the video interview.

“Generally speaking when people either change something or get rid of something it’s because they don’t want it to be located in or on their person, which means they want to disassociate with that particular item,” explains Bond. 

The defense will continue cross-examination of Sgt. Bond Friday morning. 

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