In this edition
Scheduled executions: Victim’s father opposed the death penalty for Kosoul Chanthakoummane, who is set to be executed by the State of Texas on August 17
In case you missed it: “Wrongful Conviction” podcast spotlights the Texas death penalty case of Robert Roberson
Featured events: BookPeople in Austin to host Chris Fabricant, author of Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System on August 3; TCADP book group will meet on September 7
Quote of the month
“When capital punishment finally disappears — and it is on its way out, even if that will be a very slow process — it will be because opponents succeeded in making their case, not to nine justices, but to millions of voters and jurors.”
– Journalist and author Maurice Chammah, “America’s ‘Machinery of Death’ Is Slowly Grinding to a Halt”, New York Times
On August 17, 2022, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Kosoul Chanthakoummane for the murder of Sarah Walker in Collin County in 2006. Joe Walker, the father of Sarah, adamantly opposed the death penalty and extended mercy to Chanthakoummane. He explained how his faith led him to forgiveness in this profile piece developed by Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation about 10 years ago (sadly, Mr. Walker passed away in 2021). You can also hear Mr. Walker in his own words in this video produced by the Knights of Columbus in 2016.
Chanthakoummane also faced execution in 2021 and in 2017. Five years ago, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) granted a stay and ordered the trial court to review claims of discredited science. The CCA ultimately denied relief, however, agreeing with the trial court that now-discredited forensic science, including bitemark evidence and the use of hypnosis on two eyewitnesses, would not have changed the outcome of the trial. Three judges dissented from that October 7, 2020 opinion, finding Chanthakoummane’s “argument that hypnotically refreshed identification information led to unreliable identification testimony deserves further consideration.”
If you share Joe Walker’s belief in forgiveness and mercy and want to express your opposition to this execution, contact the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles in support of clemency for Kosoul Chanthakoummane (include his TDCJ #999529 and DOB 10/01/1980 in your appeals). Email the members of the Board at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, August 12, 2022.
At this time, the State of Texas has scheduled two more executions in 2022.
Nationwide, eight people have been put to death this year, including 78-year-old Carl Buntion in Texas. These executions have occurred in five states. The first of 25 executions scheduled in Oklahoma is set for August 25, 2022. Advocates for James Coddington are seeking clemency. Read the Death Penalty Information Center’s mid-year review for more information about national trends.
A new episode of Jason Flom’s podcast, “Wrongful Conviction,” spotlights the Texas death penalty case of Robert Roberson. Roberson, who has spent nearly two decades on death row, is seeking a new trial to prove his innocence of the death of his two-year-old daughter, Nikki. Flom, a music executive and activist, uses his platform to educate people about the failures of the criminal justice system. You can listen to the podcast, which includes interviews with Roberson, at https://lavaforgood.com/podcast/274-jason-flom-with-robert-roberson/ or download it from Spotify.
BookPeople in Austin (603 North Lamar Blvd, 78703) will host Chris Fabricant, an attorney with the Innocence Project and author of Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System, on Wednesday, August 3, 2022 at 7:00 PM. Fabricant has noted that “the Texas experience with junk science and capital punishment is a central theme of my book.” Lynn Garcia, who serves as General Counsel for the Texas Forensic Science Commission, will facilitate the discussion. The event is free and open to the public; no ticket is required. Details here.
The TCADP Book Group meets every six to eight weeks on Zoom and reads a mix of fiction, non-fiction, and memoirs. Our next meeting will take place on Wednesday, September 7, 2022 at 7:30 PM Central Time, when we will discuss Notes on an Execution: A Novel by Danya Kukafka. Register here.