Execution nears in murder of real estate agent at Craig Ranch model home

Kosoul Chanthakoummane had successfully stayed his execution since 2007

Kosoul Chanthakoummane (Twitter, Texas Department of Criminal Justice)
Kosoul Chanthakoummane (Twitter, Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

A Texas death-row inmate is set to be executed for the murder of a real estate agent after multiple appeals over his 2007 conviction, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Kosoul Chanthakoummane was convicted of killing real estate agent Sarah Anne Walker inside a model home in the Craig Ranch area of the Dallas suburb of McKinney on the afternoon of July 8, 2006. Since his conviction, Chanthakoummane has successfully halted his execution twice.

His most recent stay of execution was in 2017, wherein defense attorney Gregory Gardner argued that the 2007 conviction rested on bite-mark analysis and witness hypnosis; neither techniques are commonly accepted in the forensic science community.

Chanthakoummane, son of Laotian refugees, was arrested based on the testimony of hypnotized witnesses—a real estate agent and her husband—who claimed to have seen a young Asian man at the scene and provided details to a sketch artist under the influence of hypnosis.

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In 2016, the Texas Forensic Science Commission recommended a moratorium on the use of bite mark evidence in future criminal prosecutions in the state. And while hypnosis was a popular forensic technique in the 1970s and 80s, it has been banned in many states due questions about its reliability.

In October 2020, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) ruled that the bite-mark and hypnosis-based evidence amounted to false testimony but that its omission would not have changed the trial’s outcome.

Prosecutors and the TCCA have also cited DNA evidence linking Chanthakoummane to the model home, which is part of a townhouse complex in what is now Craig Ranch.

— Maddy Sperling