Diverse jury seated for Cobbins murder trial

Diverse jury seated for Cobbins murder trial

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Letalvis Cobbins Letalvis Cobbins

By HANA KIM
6 News Reporter

NASHVILLE (WATE) -- A diverse jury has been selected for the trial of Letalvis Cobbins, the first for the suspects accused of carjacking, raping and murdering a young Knoxville couple, Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, in 2007.

Who's in the jury?

The 12 jurors are: one Asian man, two black men, one white man, one Hispanic man, five black women and two white women.

Four men were chosen to serve as alternates. Three are white and one is black.

Trial start time, jury sequestered

The jury will be brought from Davidson County, where they were selected due to the enormous amount of pre-trial publicity, to Knoxville on Sunday and sequestered. The trial begins Monday. 

Judge Richard Baumgartner warned the jury that if they don't comply with the rules of being sequestered, they could cause a mistrial.

However, the court said jurors will get some social time during the trial, in the form of a movie outing.

Details of crimes, suspect claims laid out during selection process

The jurors were chosen after the pool was questioned in groups Friday.

The prosecution and the defense both were allowed to strike 15 people each from the jury pool without giving a reason.

Prosecutors told the court there will be no eyewitnesses in Cobbins' trial and their case is based on circumstantial evidence. 

Assistant District Attorney Takisha Fitzgerald also said jurors may not like the lifestyles of many of the witnesses who will testify, but don't judge them.

Fitzgerald assured the jury pool that the issue of race will come up in Cobbins' trial.

In a statement to police, Cobbins said he's charged with killing some rich white folks, Fitzgerald said, adding that Cobbins is poor and the victims were financially well off.

Fitzgerald told the jury pool to ignore the issue of race.

Defense attorney Scott Green said, "Let's get one thing perfectly clear. Race has nothing to do with this case. We are not going to bring it up and I trust the state won't bring it up."

Three other suspects are charged in the case: Lemaricus Davidson, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman. They're all black. The victims were white.

The defense told the jury pool Cobbins made bad choices in this case, but he's not a killer. Green blames Eric Boyd, who was convicted last year as an accessory, for killing Newsom and Davidson for killing Christian.

The defense said Davidson's fingerprints were on the trash can where Christian's body was found in an East Knoxville home and no DNA evidence links Cobbins to Newsom.

Also, Cobbins' defense said Davidson was the ringleader and was abusive and manipulative to Cobbins, his half brother. Cobbins had no idea what Davidson, who's 6'4 and 200 pounds, and Boyd were about to do, his attorneys said.

The defense showed the jury pool some pictures of the victims, saying it would lessen the blow during the trial.

Newsom's body was found burned and bound along a set of railroad tracks. The medical examiner said he'd been repeatedly raped, beaten and shot.

Christian's body indicted she'd been repeatedly raped, beaten, cleaner was poured down her throat and she suffocated in that trash can, according to the medical examiner.

After seeing the pictures, two members of the jury pool asked to be dismissed. One of them, a man said,  "It just upsets me to see that. It kind of makes me a little angry. I just can't understand how anybody could be a part of anything like that."

Those two were dismissed.

Cobbins is in Nashville for the selection process. At times, he was busy studying paperwork at the table with his attorneys.


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