Victims' families: 'They're trying to trash our kids'

Victims' families: 'They're trying to trash our kids'

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LeMaricus Davidson LeMaricus Davidson
The victims' families look at photos crime scene investigator Joe Cox took inside the Chipman Street house. The victims' families look at photos crime scene investigator Joe Cox took inside the Chipman Street house.
Crime scene investigator Joe Cox identified a gun collected as evidence from the house. Crime scene investigator Joe Cox identified a gun collected as evidence from the house.
Mary Newsom said she didn't know until the trial that Chris smoked marijuana. Mary Newsom said she didn't know until the trial that Chris smoked marijuana.
Deena Christian said her daughter, Channon, didn't know any of the defendants in this case. Deena Christian said her daughter, Channon, didn't know any of the defendants in this case.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- After being questioned Tuesday in the LeMaricus Davidson trial, the families of the Christian-Newsom murder victims said the defense is trying to trash their kids.

Davidson is the alleged ringleader in the January 2007 carjacking, rapes and murders of Channon Christian and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom. The crimes occurred on or about January 7.

The state is seeking the death penalty.

Fingerprint analyst: 100% sure on Davidson match

Knoxville police fingerprint expert Dan Crenshaw returned to the stand Tuesday morning. He began his testimony Monday afternoon.

On cross examination, defense attorney David Eldridge asked about a hydrocodone bottle found in Christian's stolen Toyota 4Runner. Crenshaw said he didn't fingerprint the bottle.

Eldridge asked if Crenshaw ever processed Newsom's truck? Crenshaw said he didn't and that it never arrived at the police impound lot.

There were five trash bags around Christian's body which was found in a house on Chipman Street, plus a bag on her face. No identifiable print was found on the white bag.

Crenshaw said the white bag had fluids from Christian and it, "makes a difficult medium for prints." There were no fingerprints from Davidson, only palm prints on those trash bags.

Crenshaw said distortions can affect print IDs, and those IDs require verification by another analyst, under Knoxville Police Department policy.

The defense brought up a recent study that shows big flaws in fingerprint matching.

Crenshaw acknowledged that mistakes are made all the time, but said, "If I was 99.9 percent sure I would not make the match, but I am sure it's Davidson's prints."

"I have to be 100 percent sure before I make a match," Crenshaw said when Eldridge pressed him about the subjective nature of fingerprint analysis.

Then a juror submitted a written question that asked if Crenshaw was 100 percent sure about the Davidson match. After the attorneys reviewed the question, Crenshaw answered yes. 

SWAT team finds Christian, arrests Davidson

The state called Officer Keith Debow, with the police department SWAT team, to the stand. He entered the Chipman Street house on January 9, 2007.

Debow said he and another officer saw the trash can. "It appeared out of shape. It looked like someone was in there."

After he removed the trash can lid, he saw Christian's body and determined that she seemed to be dead.

The state showed a photo of the open trash can. Several people in court were visibly shaken.

Debow described the arrest of Davidson at a house on Reynolds Street. He said the SWAT team panned a tear gas attack if Davidson put up resistance. The officers pulled him out of a window.

Debow described Davidson as "running his mouth" when he was arrested and telling officers, "You don't know what's going on."

CSI documented scene at Chipman Street house

The state called a crime scene investigator with the Knoxville Police Department, Joe Cox, to the stand.

Cox went to the Chipman Street house on the afternoon of January 9 after Christian's body was found. He photographed and filmed the scene.

Cox identified several photos he took inside the house including those of an air mattress with a red stain on it, Christian's iPod in a bedroom and cartridges and gun magazine in the living room.

More photos showed weight scales with white powder, 22 long rifle shells and empty boxes.

One photo showed a DVD of "The Manchurian Candidate" checked out from a library in Marion County, Kentucky. Three of the defendants in this case, Davidson's half-brother, Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman were arrested in the county seat, Lebanon.

Investigators said last week they think Thomas had checked out the DVD.

Cobbins was convicted in August in this case and sentenced to life without parole. The trial for Thomas is scheduled to be held after Davidson's.

Another of Cox's photos showed a gas can in the kitchen. Chris Newsom's body was burned and experts testified Monday they detected gasoline had been used.

Another photo showed a spray container of bleach in the kitchen. Analysts believe bleach was put down Christian's throat at some point after she was kidnapped and raped.

Cox photographed several items found in a garbage bag including receipts from the Sunspot restaurant on Cumberland Avenue that were signed by Christian and a picture of her mother, Deena.

He identified the trash can where Christian's body was found when prosecutor Leland Price brought it to the stand.

After a lunch break, Cox returned to the stand and described his video of the Chipman Street house. Christian's parents were visibly upset as they saw the trash can with their daughter in it.

In the defense's cross examination, attorney David Eldridge asked Cox if he knew the shoe size of Eric Boyd, who was convicted in federal court in October 2008 as accessory after the fact to murder, but never charged with the slayings. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Cox said he didn't know Boyd's shoe size. The shoes were in the house where Davidson was arrested. Boyd led officers to that house.

Newsom's mother didn't know about drug use until trial

Mary Newsom said as Chris was leaving the house the night of the carjacking, he told her he didn't want to eat because he was taking Channon to dinner. She added that he seemed to be "on cloud nine" about dating Channon.

She said she told him to be careful, which was what she always said.

She said she didn't know until the trial that Chris smoked marijuana. In testimony Monday, Chris' best friend testified that he removed marijuana from Chris' truck after he went missing.

Prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald made the point that Chris and Channon were kidnapped and taken to East Knoxville, rather than going there to buy drugs.

Mary testified that she'd never heard of Davidson and didn't think Chris knew him.

She identified some of his ball caps and his belt. She said he always wore a belt, but it wasn't in the same condition as she remembered. His belt was found helping bind his body along the railroad tracks near Chipman Street. 

On cross examination, defense attorney Doug Trant asked Mary if she knew where her son bought his marijuana or his amphetamines.

Mary said she didn't know because she didn't know he used either one.

Christian's mother describes mounting concern, search

When the state called Deena Christian to the stand, she said Channon was offered pot in middle school and her son has a prescription for adderall. She said Channon used it sometimes to study.

Deena said her family sold Channon's 4Runner for $25,000 after it was returned to them.

Deena said Channon called home around 5:00 the day of her disappearance and said she was going to a party with Chris. Channon called again later that night and said she was coming home. By 3:00 a.m., Deena said she was worried.

On Sunday, Deena said she kept calling Channon's cell phone. Then the manager at the shoe store where Channon worked called, asking why she didn't show up for work.

Deena said she was able to call the cell phone company and get the location of Channon's last call because the account was in her name. The call turned out to be on Cherry Street.

She said Channon didn't know any of the defendants in this case.

Deena said family and friends began a grid search around Cherry Street and found Channon's 4Runner on Chipman Street. She had reported her missing to the sheriff's office.

She said she unlocked the 4Runner for officers. The seats were leaned back and there was mud everywhere in the back.

Deena said Channon couldn't take hydrocodone because it made her sick. However, a bottle was found in the 4Runner.

She said after Newsom's body was identified, everybody got involved in the search and "Everyone went crazy."

Deena identified several of Channon's possessions, some in photos and some at the stand. They included her iPod, a camisole and a sweater she said was brand new. Those items were all found in the Chipman Street house.

On cross examination, the defense asked Deena about Channon's call to their home at 12:30 a.m. She said her husband, Gary, spoke to Channon, but he thought she sounded fine and hadn't felt any cause for alarm.

Victims' families upset by defense strategy

During a break, 6 News asked the victims' families for their thoughts on the defense strategy regarding their children.

"They're trying to trash our kids," Deena Christian said.

Mary Newsom added, "I think it's totally ridiculous. He's (Chris) not the one on trial. Those kids were totally innocent, completely innocent."

Rental manager tried and failed to collect

The state next called James Mitchell, who managed the rental of the Chipman Street house. He was given a copy of the one year lease agreement and said Davidson and his then girlfriend, Daphne Sutton, signed it.

Mitchell said he tried to collect the rent in December 2006 and on January 7, 2007 and Davidson told him to come back in a couple of days. He said when he returned, the house was taped off as a crime scene.

Former girlfriend of defendant wrote letter to Davidson

George Thomas' former girlfriend, Stacey Lawson, took the stand for the state. She said Thomas lived with her at the time of the crimes.

Lawson said she knew Davidson, Cobbins and Coleman as well and visited the Chipman Street house in Knoxville three times with a group in December 2006.

On her third trip on December 28, Lawson said she drove Cobbins and others to the Chipman Street house and Sutton had moved out.

Lawson described the weapons in the house and said Davidson let her fire a revolver into the air on New Year's Eve.

The state entered a silver gun carried by Cobbins, an assault rifle in Davidson's bedroom and the revolver as evidence.

Lawson said she felt uncomfortable and left Knoxville on January 2 and next heard from the others on the 10th. She learned that Cobbins, Thomas and Coleman were back in Kentucky and met with them.

She described looking on a computer and seeing Cobbins was wanted in Knoxville. Later, she told police where to find the suspects.

When asked if she'd ever seen the victims or the Toyota 4Runner, Lawson said no. 

On cross examination, defense attorney Doug Trant asked Lawson when she started helping law enforcement and was it after she realized she might get in trouble herself. She said, "Yes."

Lawson told Trant she never saw Davidson sell drugs and never saw drugs being exchanged at the Chipman Street house. She admitted to smoking weed and taking oxycontin once.

Trant asked if other people fired the revolver on New Year's Eve and Lawson said yet. The shell casings stayed in it.

Lawson also admitted to Trant that she sent a letter to Davidson in February saying she wanted to have sex with him and should've taken the chance when they had it.

The jury asked Lawson if she knew what the group was planning to do regarding the crimes and if that was why she felt uncomfortable and left Knoxville beforehand. She said no.

That was followed by another jury question, asking Lawson if she'd ever seen the defendants smoke and what kind of cigarettes? She said that Thomas, Cobbins, Coleman and herself all smoked Newports. An empty pack of Newports was found in Christian's 4Runner.

Drug user saw Davidson in 4Runner

An admitted drug user took the stand next and testified that he used to buy drugs from Davidson. He also said during the time of the crimes, he saw Davidson and others in the 4Runner.

He said he'd never seen Christian or Newsom before.

Ex-girlfriend's best friend admits drug use

The state called Daphne Sutton's best friend, Taylor Shadix, to the stand. She said when Sutton and Davidson would break up, he would call Shadix looking for Sutton.

Shadix also said she gave Davidson a ride at one point and he had a handgun with him.

On cross examination, Shadix admitted to defense attorney Doug Trant that she's a recovering addict who used to take oxycontin. She said she got some oxycontin from Davidson and that Daphne also took the drug.


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