Jury seated in Davidson trial

Jury seated in Davidson trial

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LeMaricus Davidson LeMaricus Davidson

By HANA KIM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- A jury was seated Friday for the trial of LeMaricus Davidson, the alleged ringleader in the murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.

The jury is made up of seven women and five men. Eleven of them are white. One is a black man.

Six alternates, three white men and three white women, were also chosen for the jury in the racially-charged case.

The defense was hoping for more black jurors, basing that choice on the stereotyped belief that many African Americans are against the death penalty.

6 News legal expert Greg Isaacs said the defense isn't surprised with the jury makeup.

"If you wanted and fought to have a jury from Knox County, you know from the beginning that your choices are limited," said Isaacs.

The judge said the jurors will be sequestered the night before opening arguments, which are due to start on October 19. They have a wait of a little more than two weeks.

If there are no problems with the 12 member panel, three of six alternates will be dismissed before opening arguments.

Judge Richard Baumgartner warned the jury not to talk about or research this case, and not to watch any media coverage of it. But given that it's the most high profile and savage case in Knox County's recent history, following the rules may be harder to do.

"It's like putting 18 people in the Garden of Eden and telling them not to eat the apple," said Isaacs.

The case is so well known in Knox County that the original jury pool had hundreds of people and individual questioning took eight full days.

Friday afternoon, Channon's father Gary Christian and Chris' mother Mary Newsom both said they were anxious for the trial to begin. They hope the jury will not only convict Davidson but sentence him to death.

This may be the only jury in this case to be seated with Knox County residents. The jury for the trial of Davidson's brother, Letalvis Cobbins, came from Davidson County and the jury for the trial of George Thomas is being chosen in Hamilton County.

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

Judge Baumgartner has denied all motions to try the defendants in other cities.

Both sides lay out case for jury pool

Before the jury was seated, the state addressed the jury pool, telling them there are no eyewitnesses who will testify in the trial.

Assistant District Attorney General Takisha Fitzgerald pointed to Davidson and said, "I'm going to prove 'the nice looking college kid is a murderer.'"

One woman in the pool admitted she can't eat or sleep because she's been thinking about this case. She was later dismissed.

The defense asked the pool if anyone had problems with interracial dating since Davidson and his white girlfriend rented the house where the kidnapped couple was taken.

The defense also said fingerprint evidence doesn't show what time it had occurred and evidence found at Davidson's house doesn't mean he's guilty.

Davidson's DNA was found on Channon Christian's body and clothing, but the defense asked the jury pool not to form conclusions before all the evidence is shown.

Defense attorney David Eldridge reminded the jury pool that the state has the burden of proof and jurors can't convict someone if they have any doubt.

Davidson watched the process closely and took notes. He even weighed in several times during the selection.

Reasons some people were cut

Before group questioning began, Judge Richard Baumgartner cut three members of the pool who said they had issues with serving. One woman had a death in the family. Another woman said she couldn't handle the graphic nature of the case.

Another juror was cut after the woman admitted to joining the victims support group on Facebook. During initial questioning, the juror failed to disclose the information and only admitted on Friday after the defense fought to boot her off the case.

Later in the day, a woman was dismissed because she had a brow lift scheduled on the day opening arguments are due to be given.

Next trial in case

Since the start of Davidson's trial was delayed for two weeks, the trial of George Thomas is delayed until December 1. Jury selection will be held from November 18 to 20 in the courthouse in Chattanooga.


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