Texas Death Row Inmates Push For Forensic Hypnosis Ban

Published in CBS Local News on May 14, 2018

AUSTIN (AP) — Two Texas death row inmates are pushing for the state to ban forensic hypnosis in criminal cases.

The Dallas Morning News reports that hypnosis played a critical part in the arrest and conviction of 48-year-old Charles Don Flores and 37-year-old Kosoul Chanthakoummane. Both men allege their convictions were based on “junk science” and their executions have been delayed.

Texas has the most robust forensic hypnosis program in the U.S. Police officers are trained statewide to sharpen or recall witnesses’ lost memories. The Texas Rangers say they’ve conducted two dozen hypnosis sessions over the past two years.
Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger says hypnosis is used by trained professionals in only a few cases. He says information obtained through hypnosis must be corroborated with other information or evidence. [Read more on CBS Local]

Death Row Case in Dallas County Puts Hypnosis on Trial as ‘Junk Science’

Published in the “Dallas Observer” (US) in March 27, 2018

Charles “Big Charlie” Flores and Richard Childs were searching for money when they slid under the garage door of a one-story brick home on Bergen Street. The Black family had built it in the early 1960s when the one-block neighborhood of Farmers Branch was nothing but pasture. They had raised two children and four grandchildren there and were hiding $39,000 in cash for their son Gary Black. Flores and Childs aimed to find it when they entered the house early in the morning Jan. 29, 1998.

Flores was a big man rumored to have connections to the Mexican mafia. Childs, who had a strung-out Joe Dirt look, was involved with Gary Black’s ex-wife, Jackie Roberts. Both men had criminal records. Childs and Flores distributed methamphetamine and used it. They had been smoking it with Childs’ girlfriend shortly before they pulled up in a psychedelic-colored Volkswagen Beetle and slipped underneath the Blacks’ garage door at 7:30 a.m., police say. [Read more on the “Dallas Observer”]

Hypnotized witness helped put dog’s killer on death row — but grandma’s killer goes free.

Published in “The Dallas Morning News” (US) on Oct 20, 2017

The state’s top appellate court halted Charles Don Flores’ execution last year to allow the trial court to determine whether the hypnosis session amounts to “junk science,” as the defense contends.

The sun wasn’t up yet, but neighbors couldn’t help noticing the Volkswagen Beetle with purple waves that pulled in front of a house on Bergen Lane in Farmers Branch.

Two men got out and went inside the home.

Later that morning, William Black found his wife, Elizabeth “Betty” Black, and their Doberman, Santana, shot to death.

The house had been ransacked. Someone had been looking for — but hadn’t found — $39,000 in cash hidden inside, drug money the couple had been holding on to while their son was in prison.

Days after the murder, the next-door neighbor who had gotten the best look at the two men asked Farmers Branch police to hypnotize her. She wanted to relax so she could describe one of the men she had glimpsed through the blinds that morning. [Read more on “The Morning Dallas News on October 20, 2017]

Death Watch: The Merits of Hypnosis-Induced Testimony

Article published in “Austin Chronicle” (US) on June 3, 2016

Attorneys argue Charles Don Flores’ conviction is rooted in junk science

Charles Don Flores received a stay of execution from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals just six days before his scheduled execution date of June 2. On May 19, the court had received a series of motions filed by Flores’ attorneys arguing that their client should have his execution stayed and be granted a new trial because the merits of his conviction were potentially rooted in junk science – namely, a pivotal witness who was only able to identify Flores at the scene of the murder after police put her under hypnosis in order to secure a testimony.

Flores, 46, was sentenced to death after being found guilty of capital murder for the killing of Betty Black, who was found dead in her house in Farmers Branch (northwest of Dallas) on the morning of Jan. 29, 1998. Investigators knew the murder took place at the time of an attempted burglary; Black’s house had been trashed in an effort to find a five-figure stash of cash Black and her husband were holding for their son Gary while he was in prison. [Read more on “Austin Chronicle”]

Dead Man Talking

Published in Otago Daily Times (New-Zealand) on May 22, 2010

Horror at capital punishment in the United States led Nigel Benson to befriend a death row inmate. Meet Charles Don Flores.

I first got to know Charlie Flores about a year ago. We have been writing regularly ever since.

“Delayed conversations,” he calls our letters.

I’ve never met him and am unlikely to. For Flores is death row inmate # 999299 in the Polunsky Unit in South Livingston, Texas.

I first learned about Flores after he wrote a book, Warrior Within, about his life on death row.

For the past 11 years, he has lived on death row in a 3m by 3m cell.

There is a bed, a narrow window, a stainless steel toilet and that is it.

He tells me he can see birds through the window.

Flores (40) was convicted in 1999 of capital murder (murder which carries the death sentence) after an elderly woman was shot dead by two men during a burglary.

It is a charge he vehemently denies in his letters.

He insists he wasn’t even there.

“I look back at my experience that put me on Texas death row and one would think that such a saga would be confined to made-for-Sunday-night television movies.

“Unfortunately, it is not,” he says.

“There are things in my past that I regret and am ashamed of. I have been in jail before and I have used and sold drugs. And, when I learned that I was wanted for capital murder, I did the worst thing I could do – I ran. I knew that I would be sent to prison, or worse, forever and this scared me greatly. So, I acted impulsively and I ran. [Read more on Otago Daily Times]