Defense challenges DNA evidence in Christian - Newsom murder trials

Defense challenges DNA evidence in Christian - Newsom murder trials

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Letalvis Cobbins Letalvis Cobbins
Lemaricus Davidson Lemaricus Davidson
Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom

By HANA KIM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- A day after the judge ruled to allow DNA evidence in trials for the suspects accused of killing Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom in 2007 defense attorneys challenged the samples.

Four suspects are charged in the case, Letalvis Cobbins, Lemaricus Davidson, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman.

Attorneys for Cobbins said the DNA collected from their client can't completely exclude his half-brother, Davidson.

The defense tried to block the testimony of a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation serologist who's expected to use the DNA tests to link Cobbins to the crime.

The defense also informed Judge Richard Baumgartner the state hasn't provided enough money for experts to back their case.

Cobbins' attorneys say that means he's not getting fair representation and if his trial goes forward August 12, the case would be flawed.

In a twist however, defense attorneys revealed they're no longer seeking to compel the testimony of Cobbins' fellow suspect and former girlfriend Vanessa Coleman. 

They informed the court that they've dropped a motion filed in appellate court asking to compel her testimony on Cobbins' behalf. They wouldn't give a specific reason, only that new information has surfaced in the last 48 hours prompting the move.

Cobbins attorneys filed a motion Thursday asking once again for a change of venue.

Attorney Scott Green said, "If they have to blacken the windows of the jury bus to get out of the City County Building because of demonstrations," that warrants a change of venue.

That motion visibly angered the victims' parents.

"They would try to move the case outside the United State if they could. There is no reason to move the case outside of Knox County," said Chris' parents, Hugh and Mary Newsom.

Judge Baumgartner did not make a final ruling on the issue on Friday but ruled in September 2008 against a change of venue for Cobbins' trial. However, the jurors will be brought in from outside Knox County.

The court will travel to another Tennessee city to begin giving out jury questionnaires on Monday. Hundreds of jurors will be questioned ahead of the trial.

Judge Baumgartner ruled earlier in court Friday that photos showing Christian and Newsom before they were killed can't be used in the trials.

The state had argued that photos of victims before they're killed can help establish their identities during trials. The defense says it will stir sympathy in the case.

"It's ridiculous, but I guess the judge knows what he's doing," said Channon's father, Gary Christian.

The judge cited an appeals court ruling in his decision on the photos.

"It's ridiculous because jurors won't be able to see what they looked like before the animals did what they did to them," Hugh Newsom said.

The victims' parents will testify in the trials.


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