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A jury found Chanthakoummane guilty of capital murder in October 2007 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in April 2010.
Chanthakoummane had two prior scheduled execution dates in 2017, both of which were rescheduled because of challenges to his conviction. His attorneys filed appeals disputing the validity of Sharpless and Villavicencio's testimony, because they had consented to undergo hypnosis by a Texas Ranger during the murder investigation. The attorneys also disputed the validity of the state's DNA and bitemark forensic evidence. At a new evidentiary hearing, the court concluded that the forensic bitemark testimony offered at Chanthakoummane's trial would not be admissible under current standards, but the DNA work was sound, and the hypnosis sessions with Sharpless and Villavicencio made no material difference, because their account of what they saw and their description of the suspect did not change from what they had given before the sessions. The CCA upheld the lower court's opinion that Chanthakoummane would have been convicted even without the discredited bitemark testimony.
The defense continued to dispute the DNA evidence in further appeals. In 2021, the state granted permission to conduct analysis on two previously untested samples. After receiving the results, the court upheld Chanthakoummane's conviction.
In other appeals, Chanthakoummane's lawyers claimed that all of his DNA that was found at the crime scene was deposited when he entered the home at a time it was vacant. They presented scientific research to show that it could have been transferred to the victim's fingernails if she touched something he had left blood on. Chanthakoummane also claimed that his lawyer admitted his guilt at trial against his wishes and that he wanted to maintain his innocence. State and federal courts denied all of his final appeals.
Chanthakoummane's mother attended his execution. No one from the victim's family was present.
Chanthakoummane began his brief statement by thanking Jesus Christ, his supporters, and prison ministers "for aiding me in my journey." He then said, "To Ms. Walker's family, I pray my death will bring you peace." The lethal injection was then started. Chanthakoummane mouthed "Mom, I love you" toward the window his mother stood behind. She waved and replied, "I love you." He was pronounced dead at 6:33 p.m.
By David Carson. Posted on 18 August 2022.
Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, court documents, Dallas Morning News, MSN.com, Texas Tribune