DNA expert: No matches to Thomas on victims or evidence

DNA expert: No matches to Thomas on victims or evidence

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George Thomas George Thomas
Jennifer Millsaps, a DNA analyst for the TBI, said she didn't find any DNA matches to George Thomas on the victims or the evidence. Jennifer Millsaps, a DNA analyst for the TBI, said she didn't find any DNA matches to George Thomas on the victims or the evidence.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- A DNA analyst with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told the jury Saturday she didn't find any matches to George Thomas, the third defendant in the Christian-Newsom murders case.

The state rested its case Saturday morning just after the DNA testimony.

Judge Richard Baumgartner ended court for the day after the state rested. He told the jurors they'll get the case for deliberations on Monday after the defense rests.

The defense has reserved making a decision to call witnesses and will use the weekend to decide. Thomas is still due to give the court his answer on whether he'll testify in his own defense.

The judge told the defense to write a written proposal for acquittal. Defense attorney Tom Dillard said they'll have it done later Saturday. It will be argued in court on Monday.

After a quick break, court reconvened without the jury. The judge said the prosecution and defense suggestions for criminal responsibility in the charge he'll read to the jury follow the letter of the law.

What happened in these murders

Channon Christian and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, were carjacked, raped and murdered on the weekend of January 6-7, 2007.

Newsom's body was found on Sunday. He was bound, shot and burned along a set of East Knoxville railroad tracks near Chipman Street.

Christian's body was found two days later in a trash can in a defendant's rental house on Chipman Street. She was wrapped in trash bags and the medical examiner said she eventually suffocated.

DNA expert didn't find any from Thomas on victims or evidence

The state's first witness Saturday morning was Jennifer Millsaps, a DNA expert with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Millsaps said DNA often breaks down, especially if sunlight or bleach is involved. Evidence shows bleach was used Christian. It was on a camisole she wore, according to testimony Friday by another TBI expert.

She said she compared evidence in the case to samples of the suspects' DNA. Millsaps found DNA matching two of them, LeMaricus Davidson and his half-brother, Letalvis Cobbins.

Davidson was given the death penalty in October for his role in the slayings. Christian's body was found in the house he was renting with his then girlfriend, Daphne Sutton.

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

Millsaps said she also found sperm from the defendants.

Millsaps said for a DNA match of a man, there needs to be sperm in semen. Just semen alone isn't enough. Also, there needs to be sperm, white blood cells or skin cells to get a DNA profile.

Millsaps said Christian's vaginal and rectal swabs were consistent with Davidson's samples and her oral swab was consistent with samples from Cobbins.

She didn't find any DNA from George Thomas on the victims.

Millsaps said semen was found on Newsom, but it was only matched to him. It didn't match any samples of defendants.

Millsaps analyzed stains on an inflatable mattress in Davidson's bedroom. She found sperm and blood from Davidson and Sutton.

She also found Christian's DNA on the mattress. Again, she didn't find any DNA from Thomas.

Prosecutor Leland Price asked Millsaps multiple times about Thomas' DNA. In previous days' testimony, the defense has been doing this during cross examination.

Since Thomas' DNA wasn't found but his friends' was, the prosecution appears to be making its case for Thomas having criminal responsibility in this case.

Millsaps also told Price she didn't find any DNA matching Eric Boyd. He was convicted in 2008 in a federal trial as an accessory in this case and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Advanced DNA testing called Y-STR on Christian's underwear found DNA of two unknown men, meaning it didn't match the defendants in this case. TBI doesn't do Y-STR testing. It was done by the Bode Technology Group, a private lab in Lorton, Virginia.


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