Judge delays Davidson trial for special DNA testing

Judge delays Davidson trial for special DNA testing

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LeMaricus Davidson LeMaricus Davidson

6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- The trial of LeMaricus Davidson will be delayed for a week so special DNA testing can be conducted, the judge ruled Tuesday before jury questioning began.

The trial's start date is pushed back from October 5 to October 12.

Davidson is the alleged ringleader in the 2007 carjacking, rapes and murders of Channon Christian and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom.

Judge Richard Baumgartner granted a defense motion to delay the trial to allow for tests to be conducted on Christian's underwear.

The underwear will be sent overnight to Bode Technology, a private lab in Lorton, Virginia, to undergo what's called a Y-STR procedure.

The defense asked to have this testing done because sperm was detected on the underwear, but it was overwhelmed by Christian's DNA so it couldn't be identified.

Results are expected next week.

After the physical evidence is tested, technicians will try to identify whether the DNA belongs to any of the male defendants connected to this case, including Eric Boyd. He was convicted in federal court in October 2008 as accessory after the fact to carjacking, but never charged with the slayings. Boyd was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

The defense told 6 News technicians will also try to determine if DNA samples match any other men who aren't currently connected to this case.

Judge Baumgartner won't release the cost of the Y-STR testing. He said that information will be disclosed once the trial is over, but not now.

The judge said it would be inappropriate not to investigate the evidence further especially in a case of this "magnitude." He added that the unknown DNA could match one of the men who's indicted or maybe even a man who wasn't indicted in the case.

The judge said he's not pointing fingers but initially wondered why the underwear wasn't tested a long time ago. However, he said there's an overwhelming amount of evidence in the case and the state couldn't have gone through all of it.

The judge said it's "up in the air" whether Davidson's trial delay will affect the trial for George Thomas. Jury selection for the Thomas' trial was scheduled to resume at the end of October.

The case against the remaining defendant, Vanessa Coleman, is on appeal and no trial date is set.

Victims families react

The parents of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom had less understanding than the judge about evidence not being tested sooner in the case.

"There's only so many things you can send in, that should have been a priority," said Chris' mother, Mary.

The last thing Christian's parents have to worry about, they say, is evidence against Davidson. "If it's Davidson's DNA so what? We got enough of that to choke a mule," said her father, Gary.

Selection process as a whole

Eleven people out of 30 were kept in the jury pool Tuesday. 

The court still hopes to seat a 18 member jury, including six alternates, by Friday. The judge said the jurors will be sequestered the night before opening arguments.

So far, 71 people are in the pool for group questioning on Friday.

Judge explains cost of death penalty cases

Judge Baumgartner told one person in the jury pool Tuesday that although many people think the death penalty is cheaper than life in prison, the opposite is true.

The judge said a capital case means more resources and appeals. He added that a death row inmate sits on average about 20 years before execution, if the conviction isn't thrown out before that. 

Questioning the jury pool - the highlights

The first person of the morning was cut shortly after she said she believed O.J. Simpson killed his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.

The next person was also cut for being squeamish about what happened in the case.

The first person in afternoon questioning was dismissed for family hardship reasons.

The woman who followed, a black postal worker, said she has never heard of this case. She was kept in the pool after saying that other jury pool members pointed out Davidson was black, which annoyed her.


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