GUEST ENTRY by DAVID in TENNESSEE!
On Wednesday, October 28, 2009, Lemaricus Davidson was found guilty of the murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. Davidson was considered the ringleader of the 5 individuals who have been charged. Eric Boyd was convicted in ferderal court of accesory to carjacking in 2008 and sentenced to 18 years. Davidson's half-brother, Letalvis Cobbins, was convicted of the murder of Channon Christian last August and sentenced to life without parole.
Davidson was defended by two prominent Knoxville attorneys appointed by the court, Doug Trant and David Eldridge. Surprisingly, Davidson insisted on a Knox County jury, despite advice to the contrary from Judge Richard Baumgartner. His attorneys agreed with their client. Opinion was running high against the defendant. Why did he and his lawyers not want an outside jury? The answer seems to be in the tactics employed. The defense was to smear the two victims. There is no other word for it. They thought this would change the perception of the case.
Here is my outline of the case written in August. The accepted story was that Christian and Newsom were carjacked by a gang led by Davidson. Cobbins testified in his trial to taking part in the carjacking which brought the victims to Davidson's house on Chripman Street. In his police interview, Davidson admitted the pair was brought to his house at gunpoint, but claimed he wasn't involved, and had never seen the couple before. He also said his DNA would not be on Channon Christian. It was.
At the trial, attorneys Trant and Eldridge claimed that Christian and Newsom were out looking to buy drugs and came to the Chipman Street house voluntarily. Some druggie friends of Davidson provided dubious testimony of seeing the victims in the area. This is recounted here.
This put the prosecution on the defensive for part of the trial. Marijuana was found in Newsom's truck and a small amount in his toxicology report. Christian's toxicology report showed her clean of drugs, and she had passed several drug screens for employment.
There was no credible evidence that the victims had ever met Davidson. Cell phone records showed neither had ever made or received calls from the defendant. The defense claimed that Davidson's DNA was on Channon Christian because of "consensual sex," after which Davidson went on his dope selling run while the other members of the gang killed the couple.
Channon Christian's injuries were recounted by the medical examiner. She was found in a trash can in the kitchen wrapped in five garbage bags. She was bound so tightly her knees were touching her cheeks. Christian was alive when placed in the trash can and died of suffocation. She had a plastic bag over her head. Her body had brusing and abrasions indicating rape with blunt trauma and an object. Davidson's sperm was in both Christian's vaginal and anal region. Cobbins sperm was in her mouth and vagina. Her vaginal area had been kicked or beaten bloody.
Does this sound like consensual sex?
Chris Newsom, according to the ME, was raped with an object hours before he was killed. His bare feet were bound and he had been led or dragged to the railroad track. Newsom's face was wrapped in a sweatshirt with a hole showing in it where he was shot in the head. His hands were tied behind his back and he was gagged with socks. Newsom's was shot three times, the third to the head caused death. He was dead when set on fire at the railroad track.
When Newsom's body was found, his mother, a genteel lady, wanted to see it. The police would not let her. She put her arms around the body bag.
This is only a brief account of what was done to the victims. The first time I watched the ME's testimony on the live stream, I cried. The second time, I was in a cold rage.
In most murder trials, the prosecution puts it together in the closing argument. The lead prosecutor, Takisha Fitzgerald (TK), did exactly that. She spoke to the jurors for over an hour Monday without notes making a passionate call for justice. TK framed it by playing Davidson's own police statement in which he admits the couple was brought to his house. She questioned his motive for sullying the couple's reputation. TK described the horrors the couple suffered. "The only thing that matters is giving these two kids justice," Fitzgerald said.
The jury found Davidson guilty of both murders. At the sentencing phase, the defense brought in a series of social workers who tried to help Davidson. He had received chance after chance to change his life but went back to crime each time. In 2001, Davidson was convicted of carjacking and was paroled in 2006. His former foster parents (white incidentally) testified at the hearing and offered him a job in New Orleans rebuilding after Katrina. Instead, Davidson went to Knoxville to sell drugs and commit robberies. In January 2007, the murders of Channon and Chris occured. There was no objective reason for mitigation. On Friday, the jury of 7 men and 5 women voted for death. One of the men was black, normal for a Knox County jury.
"The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel," the foreman said, reading the verdict form for Newsom. The same was said regarding the murder of Christian.
Davidson was taken to death row at Riverbend in Nashville Tennessee.
In my first article on this case, I wrote that the 6 days of the Cobbins trial was harder to get through than both Spector trials combined. The Davidson trial was even worse. Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom were good and decent young people with a promising future who died in unspeakable agony.
Here is a complete archive of articles by the Knoxville News Sentinel.
A professional writer needs to write a book about the case to do this story justice. This is the best I can do.
David From Tennessee
Thank you David for your excellent coverage of this horrific case. I know it has been very emotionally draining for you to write about the trials and T&T is greatly appreciative of your efforts. Sprocket.