Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Second Christian-Newsom Torture-Murder Trial: Day 1 & 2


The trial of the alleged ringleader of a torture-murder trial, Lemaricus Davidson, began on Monday. This trial is before a Knox County jury at the defendant's insistence.

Christopher Newsom, 23, was raped, beaten, shot, and his body burned after being dumped near a railroad track. Channon Christian, 21, was raped by more than one rapist, beaten, kicked, and had cleaning fluid poured down her throat. She was hog-tied and stuffed into a garbage can to die of suffocation.

A vast amount of forensic evidence ties Davidson to the crimes and a police interview with Davidson is at odds with the evidence.

When asked if he had sex with Christian, Davidson said, "No." Davidson said "No" when asked if his DNA was anywhere on Christian's body, and said he had left the house when he was there.

Forensic evidence shows Davidson's fingerprints on many of the couple's possessions and his DNA on Christian's body, contrary to Davidson's police statement.

What is the defense attorneys answer to this? It is to dirty up the two victims. The main theme of cross-examination by the defense these two days is drug use by Christian and Newsom. According to the defense, the victims were looking for drugs in East Knoxville and came to the Chipman St house voluntarily. The defense in the trial of Davidson's half-brother, Letalvis Cobbins, readily admitted the carjacking took place. Davidson's defense is apparently going to deny it.

The early toxicology report had no drugs in the systems of the victims. Now the reports have marijuana and amphetamines in Newsom's system and a small amount of alcohol in Christian's system. This is probably not unusual for college-age young people

No one has seen Christian and Newsom near Chipman Street. Newsom could obtain marijuana where he lives in the West Knoxville suburbs. Today, the prosecution met this head-on

Prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald is fighting the notion that because Newsom had drugs in his system, and Channon had an Adderall pill in her SUV that doesn't mean they went to buy drugs from Davidson. Christian's mother, Deena, took the stand and said she knew Newsom smoked pot and her daughter sometimes took Adderall, which is an amphetamine-based stimulant Channon took to help study.

Friends of the couple have testified that they had no idea where Chipman Street was and never heard Christian and Newsom mention going to the area

Davidson denied in his statement to police knowing the couple or ever seeing them in his neighborhood.

This tactic by the defense is designed to take attention away from the horrific murders and the overwhelming evidence against Davidson.

David From Tennessee


Anonymous said...

That is basically saying that they deserved to be tortured and murdered because they were looking for drugs. Ridiculous.

CaliGirl9 said...

I honestly don't see how some defense attorneys can live with themselves. Yeah, make sure your client's rights aren't violated, but to re-state facts introduced in a previous trial that resulted in conviction—and twisting those facts to turn the murderers into the victims—how can any defense attorney embracing that tactic live with him or herself?

Anonymous said...

Today, the prosecution put on cell phone experts who showed that the victims had never been in contact with Davidson. His ex-girlfriend testified that Davidson gave her Channon's clothes. Why would he do that if he was as innocent as his attorneys claim?

I've followed several of the big LA trials and this is the worst attacks-on-the-victims I've seen. Why does the judge let this go on without proof?

One good thing. In the Cobbins trial, the Nashville jury asked no questions. In this trial, the Knox County jury IS asking questions, and the right ones.

Tomorrow (Thursday) the prosecution will play Davidson's police interview. As I wrote, it contradicts what his attorneys are now claiming.

David From TN

Anonymous said...

I've been following this case on the link you posted. Thanks so much. I missed the first one and because of you I am getting to see this trial live.
Sprocket, would you ever consider posting links to trials from around the country? You know how sad Insession's coverage many talking heads and interuptions. However, the message board over there has been very active on this trial.
September moo

katfish said...

Thanks again David for a great summary of the first days of the trial.

The defense attorneys in this case throwing all of this "stuff" up that the victims were looking for drugs from Davidson is a diversionary tactic that may well just explode in their face.(They can't counter so much evidence straight on so they try to create a diversion)

Often times it seems the defense gets away with this sort of tactic, but I can see a real problem with it being effective in TN. This jury can say...hey wait....why did they say that....and then ask the question themselves. The juries I've seen that were able to ask questions are often very good about asking the pointed questions.

I wish all juries were allowed to ask makes these strategic "tricks" harder to slide by.

I feel so bad for the families of these victims in the first place and then when they have to sit through this crapola. UGH!

cake fairy said...

I've been watching much of this one live and I was also surprised and shocked at the Judge's action of silencing the families of the victims outside the courtroom. I thought there had to be a general gag order and not a specific one. But judges seem to bend over backwards for defense attorneys in some parts of the country. The only defense they have is to muddy the waters around the victims. His DNA is all over everything connected to this case. He will not walk away from this one. Don't you just love how they have prettied him up for court? Amazing. Juries are pretty smart - we'll see. I can't wait to see his recorded statement to police tomorrow.

Houston, Tx

Anonymous said...

The judge has ordered Davidson's police statement to be edited to remove mention of his criminal activities. Davidson stuck up a Pizza Hut (armed robbery) the day after he left his house and admitted it to police. The jury will not hear about this because the judge had it taken out of the tape that will be played in court today.

David From TN

ritanita said...

Dave, I've been catching what I can of the trial. Thanks for the updates.

I really have to feel for the families and friends of the victims. To hear their children/friends trashed by the defense has to be so devastating.

However, I truly believe that the more the defense tries to divert, the more the jury looks at the facts of the case, and they are so horrendous that they are hard to overlook.

While it would be nice for the jury to hear about the robbery at the Pizza Hut, it's best that the judge is keeping it out. It's one less subject for an appeal. And, there will be an appeal down the line...

Anonymous said...

The prosecution is playing Davidson's statement to police after being arrested this afternoon. Even in this edited version, he's burying himself.

David From TN

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how these defense attorneys can expect anyone to believe that Channon and Chris voluntarily went to that filthy house to buy drugs: 1)The prosecution put on phone company representatives who testified that neither victim had ever called Davidson from their cell phones(they reviewed the records for a year before the murders); and 2) In his taped confession Davidson said that Channon and Chris were brought to the house already tied up after a carjacking. He tried to blame everything on his brother at the time, but he still said they were tied up when they were brought there.

They need to make the claim that the victims drove to Davidson's house voluntarily because they are trying to claim that Davidson had sex with Channon in exchange for drugs, then left before she was murdered. Since he was seen driving around in her car, the defense is trying to show that he would sometimes exchange drugs for temporary use of a car.

They want the jury to believe that these two victims went to his house to buy drugs, voluntarily had sex, loaned Davidson their car for drugs, agreed to stay in the house while he drove around in her car, and were murdered after Davidson left. To accept any of this you would have to completely ignore all the evidence. His x-girlfriend Daphne puts him in the murder house way after the murder of Chris. Davidson also gave Channon's clothes to Daphne as presents. Several of Daphne's friends confirmed all of her statements. Daphne and her friends are, or were, drug users but I don't think they are lying. Since he was a drug dealer of course he was surrounded by drug users.

In his taped statement Davidson tried to lie to the detectives saying he was with Daphne when the murders occurred. She and her friends have totally proven that false. His fingerprints are all over everything. He had the virtually certain murder weapon on him when he was arrested. Chris' shoes were in his possession. His DNA was found all over Channon.

There is zero evidence that Chris and Channon were customers, and lots of evidence that they were not. Even if they were (and they were not) it is not legal to kill them. I think this might be related to a Tennessee law that a murder committed during a drug deal is not a capital murder case.

This jury would have to be composed of 12 total morons to buy any of this.

I still do not understand the logic of insisting on a Knoxville jury. Most of them knew something of the case before the trial. I don't understand how it can help him, unless it is for a possible appeal issue. Even then, it is documented that he insisted. Perhaps they think an appeal can claim ineffective counsel on this point.

The most repulsive part of the defense strategy to me is the totally misleading and false inferences they make. For instance, while Daphne was on the stand the defense had her confirm that she had seen Davidson talking to a white woman in a Toyota Road Runner (same type of car Channon drove). The clear inference was that the woman was Channon buying drugs. On redirect, the prosecutor brought out that the Toyota in question was older and a completely different color than Channon's. I think this type of misinformation is unethical on the part of the defense lawyers.

All-in-all, the defense seems ridiculous, but they really have nothing else. The evidence against him is too overwhelming. It will be interesting to see what witnesses the defense calls, if any. They seem to be trying to make their points by challenging the prosecution witnesses with silly points. For example, they are challenging whether fingerprints are a valid identification method. Total nonsense!

Sorry for the long post. I just started typing my thoughts and got carried away.

Ray in Nashville

Anonymous said...


Your summary is right on the mark. Tomorrow (Friday) should see the prosecution put on the DNA evidence and the medical examiner. The ME's testimony is very difficult to watch, but it has to be seen to appreciate the agonizing death these thugs inflicted on Channon and Chris.

David From TN

Janet said...

Couple of things;

The general public needs to stop bashing the defense lawyers. Because Davidson has no money to hire an attorney, David Eldridge and Douglas Trant were assigned by Judge Richard Baumgartner to defend Davidson. Private defense attorneys are required to defend "so-many" cases as a condition of his/her license to practice law in what ever jurisdiction they plan to represent.

In order for our American justice system to work, all defendents are entitled to representation in court. In order to prevent having the sentence overturned on appeal, the defense lawyers MUST argue on the defendents behalf. It is Davidsons constitutional right. They would be negligent if they did not defend him thoroughly. We can't pick and choose which parts of the constitution we like or dislike.

In this case, Eldridge and Trant and their families have been threatened, death threats, as if they WANTED to defend this POS.

They aren't making millions off of this case, ala the Spector trial, O.J.'s fiasco, even Scott peterson. I HATED Mark Garagos during Peterson's trial, even though I understood it was his job.

The trial is being followed on a daily basis here: updated every evening, and there are a few people actually twittering from the courthouse one is here:
Gene Patterson's twitter coverage: and live blog here:

Anonymous said...

Prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald and the ME are doing a more thorough job in this trial than in the first one IMO. TK (as Fitzgerald calls herself) has shored up the time line according to the KNS reporter's twitter update.

David From TN

Janet said...

David, I agree. TK rocks!

Anonymous said...

A DA's assistant just passed out during the autopy photos.

David From TN

Anonymous said...

From Texas . . . I will bash these attorneys - their defense strategy is disgusting . . . there is absolutely no excuse.

If you want to say that they had to use this defense to defend that scum to the fullest, I disagree. The defense they used was so stupid - unbelievable - that defense is probably got him convicted - other than the fact that the evidence is overwhelming.

They are probably getting death threats from his supporters - putting on such a lame defense.