1st day: no verdict in Letalvis Cobbins trial

1st day: no verdict in Letalvis Cobbins trial

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Letalvis Cobbins covered his face with his hand at times during the victims' impact statements. Letalvis Cobbins covered his face with his hand at times during the victims' impact statements.
Chris Newsom's sister, Debi Wadley, cried as she described the day her brother was born and said her last words to him were " have fun golfing." Chris Newsom's sister, Debi Wadley, cried as she described the day her brother was born and said her last words to him were " have fun golfing."
"We've had to seek doctors to try get over the hate. I can't let go of the hate," Gary Christian said. "We've had to seek doctors to try get over the hate. I can't let go of the hate," Gary Christian said.
"The last thing a parent should have to do is bury a child. There's a hole in our hearts," Deena Christian said. "The last thing a parent should have to do is bury a child. There's a hole in our hearts," Deena Christian said.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- The jury wrapped its first day Monday in deliberations for the Letalvis D. Cobbins trial without reaching a verdict.

The jurors worked from 9:14 a.m. until just before 5:00 p.m., never asking Judge Richard Baumgartner any questions.

They'll resume deliberating at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday.

The jurors had Sunday off after getting the case Saturday evening. They spent Sunday going to church services and watching the movie "Hangover."

The jury is made up of six women and six men. Six are black, five are white and one is Asian. They had lunch brought in.

There are three alternates who were separated out and sent back to their hotels. They won't have any contact with the other jurors.

All the photos and documentary evidence were sent back with the jurors. No weapons or clothing were sent with them and they don't have, for instance, the trash can Channon Christian's body was found in. Judge Baumgartner thought the photos of those items would be enough.

The jurors have 38 counts to consider in this case, including 18 counts of murder. They must reach a verdict on each one. Click here to read the verdict forms.

The murder counts include the possibility of lesser charges such as second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or reckless homicide. Lesser charges are also possible on the robbery and rape counts.

Even if the jury doesn't find Cobbins guilty of premeditated first degree murder, felony murder still carries the death penalty.

The jury in this case is also the sentencing jury and it has the final say. Judge Baumgartner said the sentencing won't be done on Monday, if there's a conviction on the murder charges.

If jurors are hung on the death penalty sentence, they'll discuss lesser sentences such as life without parole.

Cobbins is the first of four suspects to be tried for the carjacking, rapes and murders of Christian and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, in 2007.

The other suspects who are charged are: Lemaricus Duvall Davidson (Cobbins' half brother), George Giovanni Thomas and Vanessa Coleman, who was Cobbins' girlfriend.

The other three defendants could also face the death penalty if they're convicted. They're being tried separately.

Judge hears practices of victims' impact statements

While the jury was deliberating, Judge Baumgartner heard rehearsals of the impact statements from the Christian and Newsom families Monday morning to make sure everything is appropriate. The official statements will be given if Cobbins is convicted of murder.

First on the stand was Chris Newsom's father, Hugh, who spoke in tears about Chris' life and his positive things it included.

Chris' mother, Mary, read in her statement that Chris said, "I now have a reason to live" when he spoke about his love for Channon Christian. She said Chris was buried with his ball caps.

His sister, Debi Wadley, cried as she described the day her brother was born and said her last words to him were " have fun golfing."

When Channon's father, Gary, took the stand, he said his daughter had "a beautiful heart." He sighed as he described the pride he had in her, along with the pride she had in herself.

"The last thing she said to me, 'I love you,'" Gary said as he fought back his emotions. "We think about her every minute of every day."

Gary looked at Cobbins as he said, "She was proud of saving herself for her husband one day." Cobbins pleaded guilty to raping Channon without bodily injury last Monday before testimony started.

"We've had to seek doctors to try get over the hate. I can't let go of the hate," Gary said. 

Gary cried as he told Channon he's sorry he didn't hear her pain.

Next on the stand was Channon's mother, Deena, who choked back tears as she said her daughter "would not hurt a soul."

Deena said what Channon and Chris endured "haunts (her) every second."

"The last thing a parent should have to do is bury a child. There's a hole in our hearts," Deena said.

Cobbins covered his face with his hand at times during these statements and hung his head as he was lead out of the court room.

After a break, court reconvened and Judge Baumgartner said the impact statements were all relevant and in line. The defense had no objections.

Families react to first day of waiting for a verdict

The Christians say writing and reading their victim impact statements Monday was emotionally draining. They and the Newsoms say it was difficult to capture everything their children meant to them and put it all down on paper.

Mary Newsom says she started working on her statement two months ago, adding and changing things and trying to get it just right.

Now that the statements have been approved by the judge, everyone is waiting to find out when or even if the jury will get to hear them.

"It gets to you. It's pretty anxious. Some people told us they expected them to come back this afternoon, but we have no indication of what time they'll come back reporting a verdict or anything," Hugh Newsom said.

"We're just hoping and praying they do the right thing. If they listened to what happened and what was said and the facts in court and if they listened to what the law is, we feel like there's no way they could come back with anything but a guilty verdict of murder and aggravated rape and everything else," Deena Christian said.

Gary Christian said he'd rather be at home watching the new paint dry on his bedroom walls than be at court waiting for a verdict on his daughter's murder.


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