Deceased doctor's homicide conviction will be eliminated

Monday, March 29, 2010 at 11:45pm

This story has been updated. 

It appears the attorney for the late Dr. Christ Koulis will succeed in having his client’s homicide conviction eliminated in light of Koulis’ death.

Attorney David Raybin filed a motion Monday morning to vacate the conviction and sentence, and to dismiss the case in a process known as abatement, which allows a conviction to be eliminated when a defendant dies before an appeal is complete.

The state attorney general's office will not challenge the motion, according to spokeswoman Sharon Curtis-Flair. 

Koulis, a former plastic surgeon, died Friday after suffering what his sister told Raybin was an apparent heart attack. He died at his Chicago home, where he had been living after his release on bond pending appeal. Koulis had been sentenced to two years in prison.

Raybin said a toxicology test was done as part of Koulis’ autopsy, and those results are pending.

A Williamson County jury convicted Koulis of criminally negligent homicide in 2007 after police said his girlfriend, Lesa Buchanan, died of a drug overdose during a drug-fueled sex romp over July 4 weekend in 2005.

Raybin’s motion cites other appeals court cases that state it is in the interest of justice that a defendant not stand convicted of a crime without a full resolution of the appeal process.

An abatement by death process essentially wipes out a conviction, freeing a defendant’s estate from the burden of restitution fines. The same argument was used in the case of former Enron CEO and chairman Kenneth Lay.

“Of course, the most important part for the family of the defendant is that their loved one does not spend eternity as a convicted felon — their memory is not besmirched by a conviction,” Raybin said.

5 Comments on this post:

By: Kosh III on 3/30/10 at 6:18

"An abatement by death process essentially wipes out a conviction, freeing a defendant’s estate from the burden of restitution fines."

So the killer is exonerated and the victim's survivors are left with nothing? Keep the conviction.

By: skeptic1 on 3/30/10 at 7:32

So...under this abatement by death, Adolph Hitler would have been exonerated because his death in a bunker prevented him from receiving due process.

Ridiculous concept!!!!

By: Blanketnazi2 on 3/30/10 at 10:53

this is horrible.

By: not_guilty on 3/30/10 at 11:07

The Constitution of the State of Tennessee prohibits corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate. Dr. Koulis's heirs did not commit any offense; accordingly, they should not be responsible for fines or court costs.

By: on 4/1/10 at 8:50

What about the family of the murder victim?