A Dallas man convicted of killing a real estate agent inside a McKinney model home in 2006 is seeking to escape death again on the eve of his execution.
Kosoul Chanthakoummane, 41, has already received two successful stays of execution for questionable forensic techniques that helped send him to death row.
But the state opposes any new stay, saying years of DNA testing and retesting have provided hard evidence of his guilt. In October 2016, it was ruled that Chanthakman’s DNA was found under the victim’s fingernails and in the model house where he was murdered.
Chanthakoummane is set to die Wednesday from a lethal injection in Huntsville for the murder of 40-year-old Sarah Anne Walker.
He has admitted to being in the model home where the body was found, but has maintained his innocence. Anti-death penalty activists oppose his execution, saying his conviction 15 years ago was based in part on flawed and outdated evidence such as bite analysis and forensic hypnosis. .
Police arrested Chanthakman after releasing sketches with the help of hypnotized witnesses who claimed to have seen a young Asian man at the scene. Law enforcement officials believe that hypnosis can act as a “relaxation tool” to remind witnesses and victims of what they have seen, but its use declined from the 1970s to his ’80s, and many banned in some states due to reliability issues. Chanthakoummane’s lawyers call it “junk science.”
Hypnosis was used in police sketches after witnesses, a real estate agent and her husband, reported seeing an Asian man wearing a white Mustang in a model home on the day of the murder. identified Chanthakman as the man they saw and his Mustang.
Another real estate agent who has helped Chanthakoummane find an apartment told police that he showed up at her house the night before the murder and banged on her door.
A state appeals court found that bite mark analysis played a “minimal role” in the case.
“The cornerstone of the state lawsuit was DNA evidence found at the scene and under Walker’s fingernail,” the appeals court judge wrote in a 2020 opinion.
Chanthakoummane’s attorney, Eric Allen, said Monday that a defense expert gave his opinion on the DNA match on which prosecutors are relying, saying his client may have been home days before the murder. Stated.
Allen said a state appeals court recently denied his request for a reanalysis of the DNA evidence. He said it’s very rare for a Texas governor to issue a reprieve, but all hope hasn’t disappeared yet.
The state also relied on Chanthakman’s own confessions, eyewitness testimony, and other circumstantial evidence linking him to the murder, the appeals court ruled.
Assistant Attorney General Rachel Patton said in a federal court filing in July that since Chanthakmane’s conviction, the issue of DNA evidence “has been thoroughly addressed in numerous post-conviction proceedings. ‘ he wrote.
For example, evidence in the trial included DNA “matching Chanthakman” recovered from under Walker’s claws, window drawstrings, deadbolt locks, and cotton swabs throughout the house.
Chanthakoummane had scratches and other injuries on his hands and arms at the time of his arrest, court records show. During police questioning, he admitted to being in the model home on the day of the murder.
“None of the DNA results have been nearly incriminating. Any belief by Chanthakoummane that further DNA investigation will yield useful results in his case is illusory,” Patton wrote in her filing. Further review of unfavorable DNA test results is also very likely to be unfavorable.”
Chanthakoummane’s last execution date was July 2017. A court of criminal appeals at the time remanded his case to Collin County trial court for consideration of the questionable forensic evidence used to convict him in 2007.
The court of first instance heard the issues raised by Chanthakumane and denied all his allegations. However, the state has agreed to conduct additional DNA testing of him on two of his previously untested exhibits. According to court records, a state judge, after reviewing his DNA report, concluded in October 2021 that the results likely would not have changed had they been used in the trial. rice field.
On July 8, 2006, Walker’s body was discovered by a couple visiting a model home on Conch Train Road near Custer Road.
Walker had been beaten, bitten and stabbed numerous times. Her nose and teeth were broken. The coroner testified at trial that 10 of her 33 stab wounds were fatal. The jewelry she wore was stolen, but she could not get it back.
Chanthakoummane, then a 25-year-old felon, was living with relatives in Dallas after being paroled from North Carolina. He was charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery and he served 7 of his 11-year sentence. This conviction stems from an incident in which he and his friend stole a car and led police in a chase after holding two of his women at gunpoint.
Chanthakoummane, the son of a Laotian immigrant who worked as a delivery driver, was arrested almost two months after McKinney’s murder.
At his murder trial, his lawyer admitted he stabbed Walker, but argued that he did not deserve the death penalty because it was a robbery that “did not go the right way.”
A jury found him guilty after 30 minutes of deliberation. They heard testimony about his DNA evidence during the eight-day trial and watched police videos in which Chanthakmane repeatedly changed the story during his two-hour interview after his arrest. Near the end, he admitted that he had entered McKinney’s model home that day, but he said he had never seen anyone inside.
A jury also decided his fate, saying he deserved death rather than life imprisonment.
Death Penalty Action, a non-profit organization against the death penalty, recently held a press conference on the case to highlight its concerns. The group played a video made by the Catholic organization, the Knights of Columbus, about how the victim’s father, a devout Catholic, forgave Chanthakmain and opposed his execution.
“I’m not ready to say that Kosoul is innocent today. But we are here to say that there are some real questions.
Chanthakman’s DNA was not detected in Walker’s neck bite, Bonowitz said. He said it was not his group’s normal practice to investigate murders. But no one else was doing it, he said.
His organization has filed a pardon petition with the Texas State Pardon and Parole Board on behalf of Chanthakman, seeking a reprieve.
The petition concludes by stating that Texas has a history of wrongful convictions.
“There is no room for error in a punishment as severe as the death penalty. We are not convinced that Texas got it right in this case. Consider more thoroughly the concerns raised in this letter.” We strongly recommend that you offer a pardon or reprieve so that you can do so.”
If his 11th hour appeal is dismissed, Chanthakman will become the 575th prisoner to be executed in Texas since 1982, according to state statistics.
Texas has led the nation in executions since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
And according to Austin’s advocacy group, the Texas Abolitionist Coalition, Texas has the third-highest number of death row inmates in the United States, behind California and Florida.