HOUSTON (AP) — A person who fatally stabbed an actual property agent inside a mannequin residence in suburban Dallas faces execution Wednesday night, greater than 16 years after the slaying.
Kosoul Chanthakoummane was on parole when he was condemned for killing 40-year-old Sarah Walker in July 2006. She was discovered stabbed greater than 30 occasions within the mannequin residence in McKinney, about 30 miles (48 km) north of Dallas.
Prosecutors say Chanthakoummane entered the mannequin residence after which beat Walker with a picket plant stand and stabbed her earlier than stealing her Rolex watch and a silver ring, which have been by no means discovered. DNA proof confirmed Chanthakoummane’s blood was present in numerous locations contained in the mannequin residence, together with below Walker’s fingernails.
Walker had been a top-seller for residence builder D.R. Horton. She had been lately divorced and had two kids.
Chanthakoummane, 41, the son of immigrants from Laos, has acknowledged he was within the mannequin residence however mentioned he solely went inside to get a drink of water. He had been on parole in Texas after serving time in North Carolina for aggravated kidnapping and theft.
“I’m harmless,” Chanthakoummane mentioned in a letter filed in federal courtroom in March.
His attorneys had requested the Texas Court docket of Felony Appeals to remain his execution, difficult the DNA proof, which was beforehand described by the appeals courtroom because the “linchpin of the state’s case.” The appeals courtroom this week denied the request. Eric Allen, one in all Chanthakoummane’s attorneys, mentioned he hadn’t determined if he would file a ultimate enchantment with the U.S. Supreme Court docket.
His attorneys had argued new science raises the likelihood Chanthakoummane’s DNA may have been transferred to Walker’s fingernails with none direct contact between the 2.
However authorities say prior DNA testing in his case has didn’t clear Chanthakoummane.
“Any perception by Chanthakoummane that additional DNA investigation would yield outcomes that will likely be useful to his case is a fantasy,” attorneys with the Texas Lawyer Normal’s Workplace wrote in courtroom paperwork final month.
On Monday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles declined to grant Chanthakoummane both a 120-day reprieve or a commutation of his demise sentence to a lesser penalty.
Chanthakoummane’s attorneys say their considerations concerning the DNA proof is a part of a sample by prosecutors of utilizing defective proof within the case.
At Chanthakoummane’s trial, a forensic dentist testified the demise row inmate was the supply of a chew mark on Walker’s neck. Such proof has since been discredited and in 2016, Texas became the first state to name for banning chew mark evaluation in prison instances.
The 2 witnesses who mentioned they noticed Chanthakoummane close to the homicide scene have been hypnotized by officers with the Texas Division of Public Security, or DPS, to assist determine him.
A 2020 report by the Dallas Morning News found most Texas judges nonetheless enable proof derived from hypnosis regardless of criticism it may distort reminiscences and result in wrongful convictions. In January 2021, DPS stopped utilizing hypnosis. Final 12 months, Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed a invoice that may have banned individuals who have been hypnotized from testifying in a prison trial.
In October 2020, the Texas Court docket of Felony Appeals discovered that whereas the bitemark testimony would now not be admissible in courtroom, Chanthakoummane’s attorneys had didn’t discredit the hypnosis-related testimony.
The appeals courtroom additionally discovered the DNA proof was nonetheless sturdy.
At his trial, Chanthakoummane’s lawyer, Keith Gore, instructed jurors his shopper was responsible “and he wished to rob (Walker), and it didn’t go the suitable method, and he killed her.”
Walker’s father, Joseph Walker, who died final 12 months, had opposed Chanthakoummane’s execution and had told the Times Union in New York in 2013 he had forgiven his daughter’s killer.
If Chanthakoummane is executed, he could be the second inmate put to demise this 12 months in Texas and the ninth within the U.S.
Whereas Texas has been the nation’s busiest capital punishment state, the usage of the demise penalty within the state has reached close to historic lows. Juries have continued to concern fewer demise sentences and within the final couple of years most executions have been delayed by the pandemic or by authorized questions over what spiritual advisers can do within the demise chamber.
Comply with Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70