Fort Smith Judge Declares Mistrial In Murder Case
Circuit Judge Michael Fitzhugh has declared a mistrial in a Fort Smith murder case.
The case of 60-year-old Kevyphonh Sounyaphong was in its third day when the mistrial was declared, according to a court official.
The jury reportedly deliberated for three hours.
Fort Smith police arrested Sounyaphong in the murder investigation of his former co-worker, Sakounsouk Vilayhong, who was found strangled in her home in January.
The mistrial was granted after a Vietnamese translator’s interpretation of a witness was called into question, a court official said.
A date for the mistrial has not yet been set.
Sounyaphong told 5NEWS while he was being led to the detention center in handcuffs after his initial arrest that he did not kill the victim. When asked if he knew who strangled the victim, he said, “I have no idea.”
An investigation showed Vilayhong spent the majority of her final day at the Choctaw Casino in Poteau, Okla. She arrived at the casino at 8:30 .m. and left at 1:50 p.m., according to the police investigation.
Detectives were able to establish probable cause and collected DNA evidence over the course of the several-months-long investigation, leading to Sounyaphong’s arrest, police said.
An autopsy of Vilayhong showed she had been strangled, according to Fort Smith police.
The suspect initially denied going to the casino, but later told police he was there on Jan. 24, and into the morning of Jan. 25. An investigation later showed that Sounyaphong left the casino on the afternoon of Jan. 24, around the same time the victim did, police said.
Detectives were able to match the DNA of hairs found at the crime scene to Sounyaphong’s DNA profile, after which, an arrest warrant was issued, police said.