1st day of deliberations ends with no verdict in Davidson trial

1st day of deliberations ends with no verdict in Davidson trial

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LeMaricus Davidson LeMaricus Davidson
"You don't send somebody to life in prison or worse because a gun could've been used to kill Chris Newsom," defense attorney David Eldridge told the jury. "You don't send somebody to life in prison or worse because a gun could've been used to kill Chris Newsom," defense attorney David Eldridge told the jury.
Prosecutor Leland Price told the jury not to believe the defense's "rabbit trail" of absurdity. He said the evidence proves Davidson was hiding a kidnapping, torture and slaying. Prosecutor Leland Price told the jury not to believe the defense's "rabbit trail" of absurdity. He said the evidence proves Davidson was hiding a kidnapping, torture and slaying.
"No one can hurt Chris Newsom anymore," Hugh Newsom said, borrowing a quote from Jake Mabe, of the Halls Shopper, referring to Chris playing baseball. "Chris Newsom is safe at home." "No one can hurt Chris Newsom anymore," Hugh Newsom said, borrowing a quote from Jake Mabe, of the Halls Shopper, referring to Chris playing baseball. "Chris Newsom is safe at home."
The Newsom and Christian families are wearing red because of testimony by Davidson's ex-girlfriend that he doesn't like it. The Newsom and Christian families are wearing red because of testimony by Davidson's ex-girlfriend that he doesn't like it.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- On the first day of deliberations Tuesday in the LeMaricus Davidson trial, the jury spent nearly five hours before breaking for the night.

The jurors got the case at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Davidson is charged with the carjacking, rapes and murders of Channon Christian and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, in January 2007.

The jurors ate lunch before they began deliberating. The alternates ate with the other jurors, then left before deliberations began.

Davidson's charges

Davidson is facing 38 counts including first degree felony murder, first degree premeditated murder, especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated rape and theft.

The jury has a 95 page jury form to go through, plus the verdict forms are 41 pages.

Click here to read the charge form.

Click here to read the verdict forms.

Families rehearse impact statements

The families of the two victims rehearsed their impact statements Tuesday afternoon. This was so Judge Richard Baumgartner could review the statements and make sure everything is appropriate.

The actual impact statements will be given during the sentencing phase.

Newsom's mother: "I know what he was really like."

Chris Newsom's mother, Mary, gave the first statement. "I'm the proud mother of Chris Newsom because I know what he was really like," she said.

"We no longer feel safe and have many sleepless nights because we're missing a member of our family," Mary added. 

Newsom's sister mourns loss of fellow NASCAR fan

Chris' sister, Andrea Bowers, was next. She said they were both NASCAR fans and he once got her a Rusty Wallace autograph.

Bowers said she found the autograph in her wallet shortly after Chris was killed.

"I mourn the loss of Chris and the life he'll never live," Bowers said.

Newsom's father: "Chris Newsom is safe at home."

Hugh Newsom spoke about his son, Chris, loved and played baseball.

"I go up to his room from time to time, but, despite all the memories, to me the room is empty," Hugh said.

"You don't say negative things about the dead because they can't defend themselves or tell their side of the story," Hugh said.

He also said his son was no saint but he was never charged with carjacking, rape or murder.

"I would give up all the money I have for one chance to tell Chris I love him," Hugh said.

I know his last thoughts as he was being led to his execution were about Channon. I know that," Hugh said.

"No one can hurt Chris Newsom anymore," Hugh said, borrowing a quote from Jake Mabe, of the Halls Shopper, referring to Chris playing baseball. "Chris Newsom is safe at home."

When Hugh was done, the judge conferred with the attorneys, then told him to take out a story about how Chris was supposed to be a groomsman in his friend's wedding and a mention of a scholarship in Chris' honor at Halls.

Christian's brother: She was my best friend

Chase Christian said Channon was "everything you'd ever ask for in a baby sister."

"She was is and always will be an inspiration to me. We did everything together. She was truly my best friend," Chase said.

"I love you Chaser. Those were the last words I ever heard from my baby sister," Chase said.

Christian's mother: "My perfect family is now broken."

Channon's mother, Deena, told the court her daughter was born after she was told she might never be able to have children.

Deena said Channon had her father "wrapped around her little finger" and she was "Daddy's little girl."

Channon "wasn't perfect but she had a beautiful soul," Deena said, stopping to wipe away a tear.

"She never did drugs. No one here can prove that to me," Deena said.

"Our kids are the victims. They should not have been put on trial here. The thought of what she had endure haunts each of us every waking moment," Deena said. 

"It breaks my heart to see the pain in Gary and Chase's faces knowing there's nothing I can do," Deena said.

"My perfect family is now broken," Deena said.

After conferring with the attorneys, the judge said, "I was not upset by anything you said, Mrs. Christian." However, he asked her not to refer to Chris and Channon as victims.

"But judge, that's what they are," Deena said. He agreed, saying "They are clearly victims," but told her not to say in her statement that they've been put on trial.

Judge Baumgartner approved several pictures of Channon and Chris to be used during the sentencing phase.

Davidson was in the courtroom for these statements. Nearly everyone else in court cried at some point during the statements.

Judge answers jury question on rape charge

The jury asked the judge to help them with a struggle they're having about the difference between an aggravated rape charge and the lesser charge of facilitation of rape.

The judge told the jurors to "look at the elements and then compare and then make up your mind beyond a reasonable doubt."

Defense points fingers at other defendants

Defense attorney David Eldridge began his closing argument with a history lesson from the American Revolution and quoted John Adams saying, "Facts are stubborn things."

"Sometimes it's easier to do what you want, but you have to do your duty," Eldridge said. "The absence of clarity is reasonable doubt."

Eldridge said in regards to the accusations against Davidson, "the prosecution is making it up. What was the rationale of Christian's phone call to her father and accessing her voicemail?"

"Stories," Eldridge said of the prosecution's explanation of events. "Stories, not proof."

Eldridge stressed the lack of evidence in a number of areas from forced oral rape to time of death. "There's no proof," he said.

"Is it possible they were supposed to bring drugs to the party?" Eldridge asked. Christian's best friend, Kara Sowards, who testified earlier in this trial, left the courtroom. Christian was at Sowards' apartment waiting for Newsom the night they were carjacked.

Did their connection to Davidson put Christian and Newsom tragically in contact with "the gang from Kentucky?" Eldridge asked, referring to the other three defendants in this case: Davidson's half brother Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas and Cobbins' then girlfriend, Vanessa Coleman.

Cobbins was convicted in August in this case and sentenced to life without parole.

Eldridge said Cobbins used bleach on Christian to hide his DNA. "Why?" Coleman tried to hide Cobbins' gun at the home where they were arrested in Kentucky. "Did she know he used it to kill Newsom?" Eldridge asked.

Eldridge described the "gang from Kentucky" using lineup photos. He reminded the jury that a defense witness, Ethel Lynn Freeman, described Thomas as "creepy."

"You don't send somebody to life in prison or worse because a gun could've been used to kill Chris Newsom," Eldridge told the jury.

Eldridge told the jury to use common sense in the case of Newsom's stolen shoes, a pair of Nike Shox. He said Davidson wears size 12 and Newsom wore size 9.5. He said it doesn't make sense that Davidson stole and wore Newsom's shoes.

Also, "There's no evidence that Davidson killed Christian," Eldridge said.

Eldridge said on Christian's death certificate, Knox County Medical examiner Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan wrote that she died on Tuesday, January 9, 2007.

He said the medical examiner initially testified that Christian was killed after Davidson left his house at 2:00 a.m. Monday.

Davidson's palm prints were found on some of trash bags enclosing Christian's body, which was found in a trash can in the house Davidson rented on Chipman Street.

Eldridge said of course Davidson's prints were on the trash bags because it's his house. "Prints would be on your trash bags at home, folks."

Eldridge asked why other trash bags containing the victims' possessions were never printed.

"Sexual contact with Davidson did not cause Christian's injuries," Eldridge told the jury. "Davidson did not rape Channon Christian anally."

He also said Davidson's semen got in Christian's rectum by draining there after they had sex.

Eldridge said the fact that Christian was brutally beaten in the vaginal area shows it happened after Davidson left his house.

"Dr. Mileusnic is human. She's not infallible," Eldridge said, regarding her work.

Eldridge said the "gang from Kentucky" fled the state after they killed Newsom 100 yards from Davidson's house and left Christian's body inside it.

He also said there was mystery sperm on Christian's underwear. "We wanted to know whose DNA. That's why we had Y-STR testing done."

"We don't know whose sperm it is," Eldridge said. "That's enough for reasonable doubt.

Christian's father, Gary, looked like he was going to explode with anger during the closing.

State's rebuttal closing: don't believe defense's rabbit trail

In the state's rebuttal closing argument, prosecutor Leland Price thanked the jury for serving and said, "It's a tough case."

Price said the state spent 5.5 days putting on its proof and it includes lots of evidence.

He described the Sunday visit by Davidson's ex, Daphne Sutton, to the home she rented with him as perspective. "This is my house!" he reminded the jury Davidson said to her as she was blocked from going in a bedroom.

Price told the jury not to believe the defense's "rabbit trail" of absurdity. He said the evidence proves Davidson was hiding a kidnapping, torture and slaying.

Price said on the weekend of the murders, Christian and Newsom had jobs and bright futures while Davidson had no job, no ride, no girlfriend and owed money for rent and furniture. "He had nothing, except a gun."

By Sunday night, Price described Christian and Newsom, saying, "They had lost everything."

Price refuted an account by Davidson's neighbor of seeing him with Christian. Price said the man saw the Grand Am that belonged to George Thomas' girlfriend instead, but she was already in Kentucky. "It's another rabbit hole."

Price said Freeman's testimony about seeing Christian and Newsom at a gas station on Cherry Street is "not true, not credible. It makes no sense."

Price showed the jury two revolvers in evidence and said Davidson's gun was the only one that could shoot three bullets in rapid succession.

He also said the Nike Shox were "another reward he (Davidson) got for killing Chris Newsom."

Price took on the defense's drainage theory regarding the semen in Christian's rectum saying, "The only way to believe that is if you believe semen can defy gravity."

Price reminded the jury of Davidson's statement during his police interview that he didn't know the couple. "It fits the evidence."

He told the jury Davidson didn't lie to the police because he was intimidated. "You saw the video. Davidson looked relaxed during the interrogation."

"Bottom line, you've got to put it all together. This is real life," Price said.

Price showed photos of Christian and Newsom as he said, "They're the only two who can answer what happened, but they've been silenced."

New jury instructions

Before the jury was brought in Tuesday morning, Judge Baumgartner said there were some issues regarding the rape charges in the case because prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald alleged multiple rapes of Christian and Newsom.

New instructions were written for the jury and the judge explained to the jurors the specifics of what the state is seeking.

The judge also explained that the burden of proof is on the state. He defined reasonable doubt this way. "Absolute proof is not required, but moral certainty is."


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