A Texas man facing the death penalty for the stabbing murder of a real estate agent saw his own life spared, at least temporarily.
Kosul Chanthakoummane, who was scheduled to die by lethal injection on July 19 after nine years on death row, was granted a stay of execution last week. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued the order and sent the man’s case back to the Collin County trial court to review discredited forensic science claims, reported the Texas Tribune.
Chanthakoummane, 36, was convicted in 2007 in the stabbing death of Dallas-area real estate agent Sarah Walker. Walker’s body was discovered in a model home by a couple coming to view the property on July 8, 2006. Walker had been stabbed 33 times and had a bite mark on her neck.
Bloody fingerprints found at the scene and DNA under Walker’s fingernails linked Chanthakoummane to the scene of the crime and he was arrested nearly two months later.
Chanthakoummane reportedly claimed his car had broken down nearby and cuts on his hand had bled, explaining his blood at the murder scene.
A jury convicted him of murder after 30 minutes of deliberation, based largely on the DNA evidence, according to the Dallas News. During the trial, state prosecutors presented forensic experts who claimed the bite mark on Walker’s neck and DNA at the scene pointed to Chanthakoummane.
However, in 2016, a White House report concluded that forensic bite-mark evidence was not scientifically valid, reports the Texas Tribune.
An extremely successful real estate agent and mother of two, the 40-year-old Walker was showing the high-end model home alone when she was attacked. Chanthakoummane was living with relatives in Dallas after being released on parole in North Carolina. He had been convicted of aggravated robbery and kidnapping after he and a friend held two women at gunpoint before stealing a car and leading police on a chase when he was 16, reported the Dallas News.
The Rolex watch Walker had purchased the night before and a ring she was wearing had been stolen. The Dallas News reported that, at his murder trial, Chanthakoummane’s attorneys admitted he stabbed Walker but that he didn’t deserve the death penalty because it was a robbery that “didn’t go the right way.”
Featured photo: Handout/Texas Department of Criminal Justice