Thursday, August 22, 2019

Michael Gargiulo Sanity Phase Verdict Reached

Michael Thomas Gargiulo, June 2008

August 22, 2019
2:05 pm KTLA is reporting that Gargiulo was found sane when he murdered two women (Ashley Ellerin, Maria Bruno) and attempted to murder a third (Michelle Murphy).

In the guilt phase of the trial, jurors will hear testimony and determine if Gargiulo will receive life without parole or the death penalty.

11:23 am
I just received notice that a verdict has been reached in the sanity phase of the Michael Gargiulo Trial. It will be read at 11:45am Pacific Time.

Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend the reading of the verdict. As I get news I will update this post.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Michael Gargiulo Verdict Reached

Michael Thomas Gargiulo, June 2008

August 15, 2019
The Los Angeles Superior Court's Public Information Office states that a verdict has been reached in the Gargiulo trial. The verdict will be read at 11 am PT.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the reading. I will update T&T readers as soon as I hear news from the court.

August 16, 2019
Yesterday, after a little more than three days of deliberation, Gargiulo was convicted of first degree murder in the stabbing deaths of Ashley Ellerin on February 21, 2001 and Maria Bruno on December 1, 2005. Gargiulo was also convicted of premeditated attempted murder of Michelle Murphy on April 28, 2008 and attempted escape from the El Monte Jail on June 18, 2008. In the murders and attempted murders, the jury also found true the special circumstances of lying-in-wait and using a deadly weapon, a knife.

There are two more phases left in the Gargiulo case: Sanity and penalty phase.

Jurors return Tuesday, August 20, to hear evidence in the sanity phase. If jurors decide that Gargiulo was sane during these crimes, they will then hear evidence to determine Gargiulo's punishment. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Christian-Newsom Torture Murder - Day 6 Eric Boyd Trial

 Eric Boyd, at his murder trial


This post will be updated throughout the day. Sprocket

August 13, 2019

8:40 PM PT
On Tuesday the jury found Eric Boyd guilty for his role in the torture-murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.

The seven-woman, five-man jury deliberated around eight hours over two days before returning the verdict of first degree murder along with guilty verdicts on 36 charges in all. 

The verdict carries a life sentence with possibility of parole after 51 years for each of the two deaths. Judge Bob McGee will determine at a sentencing hearing on September 18 whether the two life sentences will be consecutive or concurrent. Also, what extra punishment Boyd will receive for the other charges, including kidnapping and rape. 

Of the other defendants, Lemaricus Davidson is on death row. Letalvis Cobbins is serving life without parole. Vanessa Coleman is serving 35 years. 

George Thomas had been serving 127 years (not up for parole until his eighties) until he agreed to testify against Boyd in return for a 50 year sentence. With the latter, Thomas could be up for parole in his late 60's. 

Thomas' testimony in this trial was somewhat ambiguous, but he placed Boyd at the scene and told the jury Boyd murdered Chris Newsom. 

Hugh Newsom, father of Chris, said, "We said we would not stop until Eric Boyd was prosecuted. There were times we wanted to give up. He'll never be back on the streets of Knoxville to commit more crimes." 

Here is a video report of comments from the victims' parents after the verdict.

David in TN

11:10 AM PT
GUILTY! The verdicts are being read now, halfway through the 36 charges. More later tonight.

9:54 AM PT
The jury has just asked a question on aggravated robbery. It concerns whether if Channon Christian was not hurt during the carjacking but was later. That's the question according to the Knoxville ABC station. The jury has been given lunch.

Knoxville News Sentinel's Jamie Satterfield tweeted this likely meant the jury has decided the murder counts and is going down the line (of 36). 

I expect a verdict sometime today. That's been the pattern of how long deliberations lasted in previous trials.

David in TN

Christian-Newsom Torture Murder - Day 5 Eric Boyd Trial

 Christopher Newsom & Channon Christian


August 12, 2019
As Day 5 begins, the prosecution reads into the record Adrienne Mathis testimony in the 2008 federal trial of Eric Boyd.

"Mathis said Boyd, her cousin, borrowed her car (white Pontiac used by the suspects to get to the apartment complex where they carjacked the couple) on either the fifth or sixth of January."
"Mathis said she found a bag of bullets in her car."
The state rested its case. The defense moved for the case to be dismissed due to lack of evidence. Judge Bob McGee ruled it can go to the jury. 

The defendant declined to testify. The defense rested. 

ADA Phil Morton gave the closing argument to the jury. Morton emphasized Xavier Jenkins' testimony of seeing the Pontiac Sunbird which Boyd had provided for the drive to the apartment complex where the victims were kidnapped. Jenkins also saw activity at the Chipman house, Christian's car, the Pontiac Sunbird parked behind Christian's car, and four black men in Christian's car. If there were four black men, one had to be Boyd.

Morton mentioned Mathis' testimony. He points out what George Thomas saw in the Pontiac. Thomas saw Boyd bring the victims in the house, bring Newsom to the tracks. 

Morton mentions the violence inflicted on the victim's bodies, the attempt to destroy evidence with bleach, and Boyd's DNA on the gun holster. 

The state said Boyd hid Davidson after the crimes. The state said Boyd was the only one with transportation to fulfill plans to steal a car and carry out the carjacking. "How are they going to get there? It's miles away."

The state goes through all 36 charges in order and shows the evidence on every charge. The charges are 9 counts of first degree murder of Newsom, 9 counts of first degree murder of Christian, two counts of especially aggravated robbery, four counts of aggravated kidnapping and 12 counts of aggravated rape.

The state goes over the concept of criminal responsibility, which was used to convict Thomas twice. Then the timeline is reviewed. 

Morton said of Boyd, "He set the wheels in motion, literally and figuratively for all this to happen." 

Morton said the suspects were a team who had choices in their actions. They were a "team of rapists." And "it was there for just unimaginable reasons, they decided to brutalize these kids. They decided to rape these kids," Morton said. 

Morton used Thomas' account to say Boyd shot Newsom in the head. Morton explained why they were previously unable to use Thomas' statement against Boyd. 

One suspects statement to police can't be used against another suspect unless he takes the stand. Photos of the victims came on the screen when Morton finished his argument.

The defense attorney, Clinton Frazier, began by saying the acts were "disgusting" but it was Davidson, Cobbins, Thomas, and Coleman. 

Frazier pointed out none of the DNA evidence belonged to Boyd. The state proved its case against the others, but not Boyd. 

Frazier claimed Jenkins saw only silhouettes, not features. He said Thomas's loyalty is to Cobbins, and still doesn't implicate Cobbins. 

Frazier details Thomas' conflicting accounts, which "don't make sense." 

Frazier said "Don't let your anger make the decision for you." He asks the jury to hold the state to its burdens and find Boyd not guilty.

The defendants have been skillfully defended in every trial. 

Takisha Fitzgerald, who has been the lead prosecutor throughout, gave the rebuttal. 

Fitzgerald said the state had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. She reviews all the evidence and said testimony corroborates it. 

"Mr. Boyd was a part of it...We ask you to hold Mr. Boyd accountable," Fitzgerald said. She said it took 12 years because they want to get it right."

The judge read the instructions to the jury. Three men and one woman were excused. The final panel is seven women and five men. 

The jury deliberated for two and a half hours Monday and recessed for the evening. They are to resume deliberations at 9 am. 

David in TN

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Christian-Newsom Torture Murder - Day 4 Eric Boyd Trial

Eric Boyd at his murder trial
Photo Credit:

UPDATE 8/11: Corrected where Jenkins workplace was in relation to crime scene house. Sprocket

August 10, 2019
I have watched the trial on live stream all four days.

Friday was the fourth day of testimony in the trial of Eric Boyd for his role in the January 2007 Christian-Newsom murders in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Boyd was indicted in 2018, 10 years after being convicted in federal court for aiding "ringleader" Lemaricus Davidson after the crimes.

It was long thought Boyd had provided the vehicle used in the carjacking and was involved. There wasn't much more evidence against George Thomas, but unlike Thomas, Boyd didn't admit to being in the Chipman street house. 

The only testimony directly linking Boyd was by Xavier Jenkins. Jenkins worked in a waste treatment facility in the neighborhood of the Chipman street house. Jenkins testified to seeing four black males in a white Chevy Sunbird, which was the car Boyd provided for use by the suspects. In every trial, defense attorneys have tried to shake Jenkin's story but he stood firm again in this trial. 

The other witness linking Boyd to the murders was Adrienne Mathis, Boyd's cousin. She testified in an earlier trial to loaning Boyd the Sunbird. This week, Mathis claimed to have "amnesia" and couldn't remember. She didn't change her story, she claimed to not remember.

More on this later.

The first testimony of the day had to do with Davidson's phone records. Then a friend of Boyd and Davidson gave a lively account of the two visiting her apartment. 

Forensic specialist Jennifer Millsaps testified to a piece of Boyd's stained clothing. Although it could not be linked directly to the murders, Judge Bob McGee allowed it in.

The key testimony of the day was by Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan. She is the medical examiner. The live stream doesn't show the autopsy photos. I saw them when I attended the Vanessa Coleman retrial.
Here is what I wrote after seeing the medical examiner's testimony and the photos in 2012. The testimony on Friday was identical.

"The first photo was of Chris Newsom's burned body lying beside the railroad tracks. His body was blackened from about the knees up with the face unrecognizable. There was a blindfold over his eyes which somewhat preserved them. A police officer who was a friend of the Newsoms could recognize Chris 'because of his eyes,'

"The other photo was of Chris Newsom's bare feet which were still tied by a belt and ligature." 

"Now came Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan's (ME) presentation concerning the rape and murder of Channon Christian. Her body was not removed from the garbage can until at the medical examiner's office. The can was covered by a tarpaulin while being hauled there. Her face had been covered by a white plastic bag and the body enclosed in several black plastic bags. 

"Channon Christian was a beautiful 21-year old woman who stood five feet, eight inches, and weighed 122 pounds."

"On the screen appeared a photo of Channon's body lying on a gurney. Her body was still contorted in the position it was in after being 'crammed' into the trash can. She was naked from the waste down."

"The mouth was open. The eyes were half-closed. Her face was frozen in horror. She had died of asphyxiation after hours of agony. The left arm was extended upward from the elbow."

"This photo hit me like a punch."

"The next photo showed abrasion inside the lips. Her gum had been knocked loose from her teeth. A photo of her face was next."

"Then came a photo of her genitals. It revealed tremendous trauma. She had been kicked and beaten repeatedly in the vagina. During Davidson's trial, a beginning female deputy DA fainted at this photo."

"The next photo was of her anus with still more heavy bruising. It looked like she had been clubbed, She had been raped anally, vaginally, and sodomized."

I repeat viewers of the Court TV live stream didn't see this. The Court TV talking heads in their Atlanta studio could not see it.

Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Jamie Satterfield tweeted from the courtroom "Jurors are struggling with these images. One guy rubbed his face and kept his head down, another rubbing his temples, lady covers her mouth, etc..."

Of Newsom, Satterfield tweeted "Savaged-that's the best way to describe what happened to Chris."

On Friday, Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan said there was tearing, bruising and lacerations of Newsom's anus. "That was indication of damage," she told the courtroom. "Plus, on the inside there were some additional tears and additional bruising." 

The anal injuries occurred one to two hours before Newsom was shot, she said. She confirmed that Newsom was raped.

George Thomas' testimony this week and prior by the suspects said nothing about the horrible wounds inflicted on the victims. 

The prosecution rested. 

Now, the state asked Judge McGee to allow Boyd's cousin Adrienne Mathis' prior testimony in which she told of loaning Eric Boyd the Sunbird. Without this testimony, the state can't connect Boyd to the Sunbird. 

Prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald asked McGee to let in prior testimony only from Boyd's 2008 federal trial. 

Judge McGee gave the state a win. He ruled Mathis was "unavailable" because of her claimed loss of memory and will allow into evidence prior federal testimony.

That was the end of Friday's session. Court resumes on Monday.
David in TN

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Christian-Newsom Torture Murders - Day 3 Eric Boyd Trial

 Christopher Newsom & Channon Christian


August 8, 2019
Today was Day 3 of the trial of Eric Boyd for his part in the Christian-Newsom murders.

The cross examination of George Thomas by Eric Boyd's attorney was not as extensive as expected. Clinton Frazier, Boyd's attorney, mainly went over Thomas' not seeming to know much of anything. 

The Court TV guest commentators were disappointed the cross was short.

The mothers of the victims, Deena Christian and Mary Newsom, took the stand in succession. This is the eighth trial they have done so. Both told of the last time they saw their children and the shock upon finding them missing.

Since both were over 21, the police wouldn't look for them and Chris and Channon's friends had to search themselves.

Former Knox County Sheriff Jimmy Jones questioned Vanessa Coleman, Letalvis Cobbins, and George Thomas in January 2007 in Kentucky. Jones thought Thomas was most truthful but "you never get the whole truth, ever."

Daphne Sutton, "ringleader" Lemaricus Davidson's girlfriend, testified to thinking there was another woman in the bathroom. The door was closed and Sutton was kept away. While telling her to leave, Davidson gave Sutton some of Channon's clothes. When seeing them today, Sutton cried.

This never happened before. 

In a trial I attended in 2013, I walked by Daphne Sutton while she was sitting on the bench outside the courtroom for prospective witnesses. She gave me quite a look. 

Tomorrow (Friday), the medical examiner will testify. The jury will see gruesome photos and the description of the torture and death inflicted on the victims.

David in TN

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Christian-Newsom Torture Murders - Day 2 Eric Boyd Trial


August 7, 2019
Here is a video report by Jamie Satterfield of the Knoxville News Sentinel.

I watched the testimony of George Thomas on live stream by Court TV. As always Thomas played down his own involvement. He makes the atmosphere inside the death house seem placid. He claims to have never heard either victim say anything, cry out, fight back. 

Thomas now says Cobbins didn't go with him and Boyd to kill Chris Newsom. Before he had said Davidson went with Thomas. Thomas puts all crimes against Chris Newsom on Boyd. 

Thomas' account of Newsom's death doesn't fit the way the body was found, no pants or shoes. Thomas has Newsom clothed. 

A new story. Thomas claims at one point Boyd was left in the house with Channon Christian while he, Davidson, Cobbins, and Vanessa Coleman drove off somewhere for a short time. 

What Thomas said today doesn't fit what came out at his own (two) trials and Cobbins' 2009 trial. 

Thomas did place Boyd at the scene. The other suspects had said Boyd was present in their police interviews, but none had in court under oath until today. 

My own opinion and most other people who have followed the case is Boyd was far more involved in the crime than Thomas was. The difference is Thomas admitted to being in the Chipman Street house while Boyd didn't. 

Jamie Satterfield was interviewed on Court TV this evening. She said when federal prosecutors tried Eric Boyd in federal court for accessory after the fact in 2008 for hiding the "ringleader," Lemaricus Davidson, they basically made a murder case against Boyd. He had furnished the vehicle for the carjacking. 

The feds wanted to try the whole thing themselves as a carjacking-murder which federal statutes could have allowed. 

However, the torture-murders of two attractive, likable young people outraged the Knoxville community. The local District Attorney General's office demanded the opportunity to try the murder case in state court. 

The local DA, according to Ms. Satterfield, wanted to be certain of winning convictions and was afraid of possibly losing if he tried Boyd. 

There is now a different administration in the Knox County DA's office and they filed the case. The victim's parents, especially the Newsoms who have always believed it was Eric Boyd who raped and murdered their son were insistent on Boyd being charged. 

While Boyd denied being in the Chipman house when interviewed by Knoxville police, he gave considerable detail about what went on, claiming Davidson told him. 

Tomorrow, Boyd's attorney will cross examine Thomas. Prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald will have work to do on redirect. 

Eric Boyd has the most extensive criminal past of the suspects starting very young. Boyd was a stick-up man. He walked into convenience stores, service stations, etc, pulled a gun and demanded the contents of the cash register. He was also an experienced carjacker. He served several prison sentences for these offenses. The jury won't hear about Boyd's criminal record.

David in TN

Christian-Newsom Torture Murders - Eric Boyd Trial


This is a short update by David in TN on the Eric Boyd Trial. Sprocket

August 7, 2019
This is a summary of the first day of testimony from the Knoxville ABC affiliate. Adrienne Mathis, Eric Boyd's cousin, had testified at earlier trials to loaning Boyd the vehicle used in the kidnapping. Yesterday, she claimed to "not recall" doing so. 
David in TN

Note: There is a live stream of the trial at the ABC affiliate link. Sprocket

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Christian-Newsom Torture Murders - Eric Boyd Upcoming Trial

Christopher Newsom, Channon Christian

GUEST ENTRY by David in Tennessee!

Tomorrow (Monday) jury selection begins in the trial of Eric Boyd for his role in the torture-murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom in Knoxville, Tennessee on January 7, 2007. 

Since my report last February, there have been two developments.

One, Knox County Criminal Court Judge Bob McGee rejected the bid by Boyd's attorney for a jury pool outside Knox County.

Two, George Thomas, a suspect already convicted in the case and sentenced to two life terms, is on the prosecution witness list. According to the sentence, Thomas would be eligible for parole after 50 years.

Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Jamie Satterfield wrote:
"Boyd has long denied he was anywhere near the Chipman Street home when Christian and Newsom were brought there, bound, blindfolded, and gagged, after they were kidnapped while preparing to  leave a North Knoxville apartment complex for a date."

"Thomas, on the other hand, admitted he was inside the home and saw what was going on, but he denied any active role in any of the crimes committed against the couple. A jury twice convicted him anyway. He has exhausted most of his appeals."

"It's not clear yet if the state has offered Thomas a reduction in his sentence in return for his testimony against Boyd. Newsom's parents, Hugh and Mary Newsom, had once hoped to convince another suspect--Letalvis Cobbins--to testify against Boyd, but he later refused after a plea deal fell through."
The other suspects have said Eric Boyd furnished the vehicle used in the kidnapping.

David in TN