Texas plans to execute Kosoul Chanthakoummane on Wednesday for the 2006 murder of a real estate agent in a Collin County model home. It would be the second execution this year in a state that typically puts more people to death than any other.
Chanthakoummane, now 41, is set to die for the murder of Sarah Walker, who was brutally beaten and stabbed to death while showing a home in a McKinney subdivision. The 40-year-old’s Rolex watch and ring were missing when police arrived.
Witnesses placed Chanthakoummane at the model home, and a bite mark on Walker’s back and blood under her fingernails and at the scene were linked to him, according to court records. The death row prisoner has long claimed he is innocent.
Over his nearly 15 years on death row, the prisoner’s attorneys have chipped away at the reliability of evidence against him. Forensic scientists have largely debunked the ability to match bite marks to an individual. And the witnesses who testified Chanthakoummane was the man they saw on the day of the murder had previously been hypnotized by police investigators, despite scientific evidence that the practice can distort memories.
But analysts also determined his DNA was on Walker’s fingernails and elsewhere at the crime scene, and that evidence largely has convinced the courts they have the right man. In his last appeals to Collin County and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals filed last week, Chanthakoummane’s attorneys argued that the DNA evidence is also questionable.
Under a 2013 Texas “junk science” law, courts can overturn a conviction when the scientific evidence presented at trial has since changed or been discredited.
“Critically, current scientific knowledge contradicts the trial court’s previous finding that the ‘only reasonable inference’ to be drawn from the DNA evidence is that Mr. Chanthakoummane violently attacked Ms. Walker,” wrote attorneys Catherine Clare Bernhard and Eric J. Allen.
In a court filing, the Collin County district attorney’s office replied that “Chanthakoummane presents no new science in the field of DNA analysis, and even if there were something new, he fails to show it would have prevented his conviction.”
In a court filing, the Collin County district attorney’s office replied that “Chanthakoummane presents no new science in the field of DNA analysis, and even if there were something new, he fails to show it would have prevented his conviction.”[ad_2]