Arguments on searches of house in Christian - Newsom murders

Arguments on searches of house in Christian - Newsom murders

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This is the house on Chipman Street in 2007 after Channon Christian's body was found there. This is the house on Chipman Street in 2007 after Channon Christian's body was found there.
Lemaricus Davidson Lemaricus Davidson

By HANA KIM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- Attorneys for the state and the defense were in court Friday arguing about the validity of searches at the home where Knoxville murder victim Channon Christian's body was found in 2007.

Searches of home

Police said Christian's body was found in a trash can at the home at 2136 Chipman Street on January 9, 2007. The home was demolished in October 2008.

The shot and burned body of Christian's boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, 23, was two days earlier along the railroad tracks near 9th Avenue.

Investigators say the couple was carjacked and raped before they were killed.

Three men and one woman are charged in the case: Letalvis Cobbins, Lemaricus Davidson,  George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman.

On the stand Friday, Denise Morrissey, a forensic investigator for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, testified that the TBI was called for the fourth search warrant, which was federal.

Morrissey said the first three warrants were issued by Knoxville police. The fist search was done on January 9, 2007.

Morrissey said she was told the Knox County district attorney general couldn't file charges at that point and the previous warrants were no good.

Her impression was that the DA didn't have all the evidence needed for charges so that's why the TBI was called in.

Morrissey said it was unusual for the TBI to search Knoxville crime scenes. The bureau usually assists with investigations in rural counties.

The defense contended the TBI was needed because local investigators knew there were problems with previous searches of the Chipman Street house.

Morrissey testified that when they examined the home, she noticed a bleach bottle mentioned in earlier warrants was gone. When she checked the third warrant, it said the bleach bottle should be under a cabinet.

The defense argued that this shows evidence was tampered with between the third and fourth warrants.

Morrissey also testified that items such as Wendy's food cups had not been noted as being in the house during the original search.

However, the state said it has video of the original search showing the Wendy's food cups.

The original search warrant when Christian's body was removed from the house was apparently missing a signature.

Judge Richard Baumgartner hasn't issued a ruling on the searches of the house. He advised against jumping to conclusions about the searches and said it was possible items could have been missed during observation.

Lemaricus Davidson's arrest and questioning

Friday afternoon, Knox County SWAT Officer State Keith Debow testified that Lemaricus Davidson was somewhat compliant when he was surrounded at a vacant home near Chipman Street and arrested on January 11, 2007.

Debow said Davidson was in the house and put his hands on a window sill when told to surrender. Davidson said he couldn't open the window.

Officers broke the window and arrested Davidson that way.

Debow testified that after his arrest Davidson had a cavalier attitude and said officers didn't know "bull."

Video of Davidson in the back of a police cruiser after his arrest shows him asking,"Where is my brother and how did you find me?" Davidson and Cobbins are half-brothers.

Davidson also told officers he was going to turn himself in the day of his arrest at 5:00 p.m.

Investigators also showed video of Davidson's questioning by police. The defense wants all the videos from the cruiser and his questioning thrown out.

Davidson's attorneys argued the warrant was bad so authorities didn't have the authority to arrest him. They also said the police coerced Davidson and intimidated him to make statements. Plus, they argued that Davidson never waived his rights because they weren't clear.

Davidson's attorneys revealed that the police investigator who interviewed Davidson also spoke with Daphne Sutton, Davidson's then girlfriend.

The investigator admitted there were phone conversations between Sutton and himself.

Davidson's attorneys said investigators were telling Sutton what to say to Davidson before his arrest and alluded to that being coercion.

His attorneys said the phone recordings were destroyed. 

The state said the recordings weren't destroyed, but admitted they're missing.


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