Dallas man executed for murder of Collin County real estate agent

HUNTSVILLE — He lived to be 41, a year longer than the woman he murdered. But the court appeals who helped Kosoul Chanthakoummane approach middle age could no longer prevent his fate.

A Collin County convicted jury Chanthakoummane to death for beating and stabbing Sarah Anne Walker, a real estate agent, to death during a robbery at a model home in McKinney in 2006.

As his mother, Phongsamout Thongpho, and other witnesses watched from an observation booth on Wednesday, a lethal dose of the sedative pentobarbital flowed through his blood shortly after 6 p.m., knocking him unconscious before slowing down and eventually stopping his heart.

Chanthakoummane, clean-shaven and wearing glasses, requested that a spiritual advisor, a Buddhist monk, be with him in the burial chamber. The monk placed his hand on the condemned man’s chest – a first in Texas executions – while reciting a prayer.

No member of the victim’s family was present; none of the Collin County law enforcement officials were involved in the investigation and prosecution.

The murder of the 40-year-old mother of two in the northern suburbs of Dallas shocked residents with its brutality and randomness and drew national media attention. According to police, it was clear from her defensive wounds that Walker had fought Chanthakoummane as he repeatedly stabbed her and bit her in the neck during a tug of war.

A couple visiting a model townhouse in the community of Craig Ranch found her body on July 8, 2006. Ten of the 33 stab wounds to her body were fatal.

Kosoul Chanthakoummane
Kosoul Chanthakoummane

Chanthakoummane, strapped to a stretcher, turned his head and nodded to his mother, then said his last words, thanking “my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” and all the people in his life who “have helped on this journey.

“To Mrs Walker’s family, I pray that my death brings them peace,” he said, his voice shaking slightly, before closing his eyes.

A doctor pronounced the time of death: 6:33 p.m., about 25 minutes after the lethal solution began to flow into his arms.

The crime

Officers arrived at the model home to find the desk and chair moved, a plant stand knocked over, and a pair of women’s shoes on the floor with a broken hair clip and earring. Crime scene photos showed pooled, streaked blood on the dining room floor, indicating she had been dragged into the kitchen. The killer was injured during the fight. Blood and DNA found on Walker and in the house would lead to his conviction.

When Chanthakoummane was arrested nearly two months later, police noticed healing cuts and scratches on his hands. He initially denied being at McKinney, but later said his car broke down outside the model home. But he maintained his innocence, saying he went inside for a drink of water and left without meeting anyone.

The gun used to kill Walker has never been found. Neither did his brand new Rolex watch and his silver ring.

Prosecutors said Chanthakoummane preyed on female real estate professionals, targeting them for theft.

Real estate agent Sarah Anne Walker was found dead in the kitchen of this McKinney model...
Real estate agent Sarah Anne Walker was found dead in the kitchen of this McKinney model home in 2006.

Chanthakoummane “intentionally and repeatedly attempted to isolate a woman to commit the offence”, according to court records.

The first real estate agent he called brought her husband, which scared him. Then he saw Walker arriving at work across the street and walked inside, detectives and prosecutors said.

It was not the first time he had committed violence against women.

At the time of the murder, Chanthakoummane was on parole for a kidnapping and robbery in North Carolina years earlier in which he and another teenager broke into a house and tied up two elderly women. They held the women at gunpoint before stealing a car and running from the police.

Attorney Greg Davis, in an interview for the TV show Forensic filescalled him a “psychopath and sociopath” only interested in helping himself.

A federal judge ruled in 2015 that Chanthakoummane’s criminal history was “extensive and full of violence”, and that he had committed violent assaults and robberies when he was a minor.

Anti-death penalty activists have opposed Chanthakoummane’s execution, saying his 2007 conviction was based in part on flawed evidence such as analysis of bite marks and police hypnosis.

Chanthakoummane sat on Texas death row for 15 years as his various appeals made their way through the court system. Judges dismissed his latest appeals, which questioned the DNA evidence used to convict him. State attorneys argued that the DNA analysis was the strongest evidence in the case and further testing of samples continued to point to his guilt.

The killer

Chanthakoummane was born in the United States to war refugees who had fled Laos to give their family a better life.

His parents were poor farmers from Laos. His father also served in the Laotian army, helping the United States during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s before being “sent to a re-education camp after the communists seized power in 1974”. according to court records.

The family came to the United States after Chanthakoummane’s sister was born in 1979. After moving several times to find better work opportunities, they settled in Charlotte, NC when he was 5 years old.

While his three older siblings led “relatively productive lives”, Chanthakoummane had “numerous disciplinary problems” even before entering the juvenile justice system, according to court records. This included “stealing from siblings, going out late at night without permission and punching holes in the walls of the house”, according to the records.

His family also knew about his involvement in gangs as a teenager, his lawyers said.

Defense lawyers said they did not ask family members to testify at trial because they, including his mother, believed he ‘deserved the death penalty’ if he was guilty, according to court records.

Keith Gore, one of his attorneys, said interviews with the family indicated they viewed him as “tempered, unruly and disrespectful of authority”, according to court records. He stole cars and violently assaulted a classmate, landing him behind bars at age 15.

But his conduct quickly escalated, leading to serious felony charges when he and another teenager broke into the North Carolina home and held the occupants hostage. Chanthakoummane was sentenced to 11 years in prison for kidnapping and theft and was paroled in Texas after seven years.

He was 25 when he arrived in North Dallas to live with his sister and her fiancé, looking for a fresh start.

Friends and family members described him as a calm man who did not wish to return to a life of prison bars and handcuffs. After initially struggling to find work, Chanthakoummane landed a job as a delivery driver for an office supply company.

But he was overdrawn in his checking account and saw the theft as a way out of his predicament, prosecutors said. His own attorney agreed during opening statements in his trial.

“He wanted to steal it,” the defense attorney told jurors of Walker. “It didn’t go the right way and he killed her.”

The victim

Walker sold homes for 20 years and loved his job. She was described by those who knew her as fun, outgoing, successful, and hardworking. She drove an expensive car and loved to travel.

She was recently divorced and had two sons.

Sarah Walker
Sarah Walker

Her father, Joe Walker, a devout Catholic, said in interviews before his death that he had forgiven his daughter’s killer. He did not want Chanthakoummane executed, preferring that he spend the rest of his life in prison.

But her other daughter, Jackie Mull, felt otherwise.

“The evidence was overwhelming and showed the brutality of a cold-blooded killer. If the death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst, I believe Kosul [sic] Chanthakoummane has earned a front row seat,” Mull said in a 2007 statement after the trial.

Joe Walker spoke about his daughter and her murder in a video produced by the Knights of Columbus. Death Penalty Action, a group opposed to executions, shared this during a recent press conference on the case.

Joe Walker said in the video that hundreds of people showed up for his daughter’s funeral in Dallas. He said he told those present to pray for “whoever did this”.

“On the other hand, I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes feeling the 27 knocks,” he said in the video. “Of course I’m angry. It would be silly to say I wasn’t mad at what happened.

He said he believed Chanthakoummane would “repent” as his execution approached.

But there would be no expression of remorse. Chanthakoummane categorically maintained that he was innocent. Death Penalty Action released a recorded message from him a few weeks before the execution in which he called his conviction a “miscarriage of justice”.

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