Jurors polled in Nashville for Christian - Newsom murders trial

Jurors polled in Nashville for Christian - Newsom murders trial

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Letalvis Cobbins Letalvis Cobbins

By HANA KIM
6 News Reporter

NASHVILLE (WATE) -- The search for a jury in the first trial of the suspects accused of killing Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom took the court to Nashville Monday.

Judge Richard Baumgartner and attorneys for both sides are involved in the polling of hundreds of potential jurors in Davidson County for the trial of Letalvis Cobbins.

A nine person security team also brought Cobbins to Nashville for the polling. He sat with his attorneys. His trial is slated to be begin on Wednesday, August 12.

Three other suspects are charged in the case: Lemaricus Davidson, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman.

The questionnaire has 120 questions including a section devoted to the media. Some of the questions ask how respondents get their news, if they've ever written a letter to an editor and whether they write Internet blogs on post comments on media Web sites?

In April, Judge Baumgartner ruled to allow unrestricted media coverage in the trials. All four suspects had asked the court to order media outlets to prohibit people from posting comments about stories related to the case.

There's also a section of poll questions asking about the case itself, including whether the jury pool has ever heard of it, blogged about it or commented on it online.

Some questions ask respondents how they deal with racial differences. For example, question 92 says, "Have you ever had an argument, conflict, confrontation or very unpleasant experience with a person or a race or ethnic origin different from yours?"

The two murder victims in this case were both white. The four suspects are black.

Question #104 asks potential jurors, "Do you have any moral, religious or other beliefs which may prevent you from considering the death penalty in this case?" The suspects are all facing the death penalty.

A later question on the death penalty asks if respondents believe it's more expensive to execute someone or imprison him for life.

The suspects' attorneys have challenged the death penalty in several motions, including that it's unconstitutional because it costs more than a sentence of life in prison and that it's racially biased. So far, all the motions have been denied.

Another poll question asks respondents if they believe the criminal justice system is too strict, too lenient or about right.

After answering, the jury pool came to a courtroom in the downtown Nashville courthouse.

The jury will be sequestered so those with acceptable reasons they can't meet this requirement are being dismissed.

Stephanie Howard was dismissed due to her beliefs regarding the death penalty. She told 6 News she believes a person found guilty should be imprisoned, not put to death.

Howard said she believes it's wrong for a murderer to kill and it's wrong for him or her to be executed as well.

The jury pool was asked to return to court on August 12 and 13 so attorneys can start their individual questioning.


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