Victim's mother connects Coleman to items taken from daughter

Victim's mother connects Coleman to items taken from daughter

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Vanessa Coleman Vanessa Coleman
Tim Schade, a fingerprint expert with Knoxville police, identified the trash can where Channon Christian's body was found. Tim Schade, a fingerprint expert with Knoxville police, identified the trash can where Channon Christian's body was found.
Deena Christian identified evidence for prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald. Deena Christian identified evidence for prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - As the state continued its case Tuesday against Vanessa Coleman in the Christian-Newsom murders, the mother of a victim connected Coleman to items taken from her daughter.

Before testimony began Tuesday, Judge Richard Baumgartner changed his position, ruling that Coleman's marijuana use is relevant to the case.

Prosecutors indicated they'll introduce sections of Coleman's testimony for a federal grand jury to the jury in this trial.

Case background

Coleman, 21, is the fourth defendant to stand trial for the robbery, rapes and murders of Channon Christian and her boyfriend, Chris Newsom, in January 2007. She's facing the death penalty.

The bound body of Chris was found near some railroad tracks in East Knoxville. The medical examiner said he had been repeatedly raped, beaten and shot. His body was also burned.

The bound body of Channon was found in a trash can in a nearby house at 2316 Chipman Street two days later. The medical examiner said she was also repeatedly raped, beaten and bleach was poured down her throat. She suffocated in the trash can.

Coleman's ex-boyfriend, Letalvis Cobbins and his friend, George Thomas, are serving life without parole for these murders.

LeMaricus Davidson, who is Cobbins' half-brother, received the death penalty.

Neighbor IDs victim's SUV

A woman who lived near Chipman Street, Kileen Bible, identified Christian's stolen Toyota 4Runner as being parked near her house.

Fingerprint examiner IDs suspect

Next, Knoxville police fingerprint examiner Dan Crenshaw told the jury about how he matched a thumb print from a bank envelope in Christian's SUV to Davidson on January 9, 2007. It wasn't verified until later.

Investigators found the SUV after Newsom's body was discovered.

Crenshaw said he drove by the Chipman Street house after his overnight shift, but there was no sign of activity. He didn't stop.

Crenshaw said Davidson's palm print was on the outermost of five trash bags wrapped around Christian's body.

Crenshaw said most fingerprints are not good enough to identify.

The defense didn't cross examine Crenshaw.

SWAT team finds victim's body

SWAT team Officer Keith DeBow testified about entering the Chipman Street house and found the trash can containing Christian's body. He said it wasn't the right shape.

The state showed photos of the trash can with the top removed so part of Christian's arm was visible.

Debow helped arrest Davidson at an abandoned house a couple of miles from Chipman Street.  He said officers pulled Davidson through a window and took him into custody.

Jurors asked Debow how officers knew Davidson was at the abandoned house. He said someone tipped them.

Police document house where victim found

Knoxville police forensic investigator Joe Cox testified on filming the inside of the Chipman Street house and taking photos.

Cox's video shows bullets, a rifle, air mattresses, fast food containers and lots of full trash bags. Some of the bags had items that belonged to Christian and Newsom.

Cox identified a bleach bottle in evidence. Testimony will show Christian was forced to swallow bleach in an effort to destroy DNA evidence.

Jurors saw a red purse that belonged to Coleman and had some of Christian's items in it.

Christian's purse was found in a trash bag with a floral strip of cloth in it that had her blood and Coleman's DNA.

On cross examination, defense attorney Russ Greene asked Cox where the red purse and its contents came from. Cox said it was given to him by investigators in Kentucky, where Coleman, Cobbins and Thomas were arrested.

The jury asked Cox what was in Coleman's red purse. The judge said other witnesses will testify about that.

The Chipman Street house was only 900 square foot, so small it would fit in the court room where this trial is taking place.

The house was demolished in August 2008 and became the site of a memorial to Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.

Gun found in Kentucky comes to Knoxville

Beth Goodman, a senior evidence technician with the Knoxville Police Department, took the stand and identified a revolver she received from investigators in Kentucky.

Davidson print evidence identified

Tim Schade, another fingerprint expert with Knoxville police, showed the jury trash bag samples with Davidson's prints on them.

No prints from Coleman were found on any of the trash bags.

Schade identified the trash can where Christian's body was found for the jury, along with floral print cloth and pink cloth with knots found at scene.

Christian's mother hung her head at the sight of the trash can. Her father rocked back and forth angrily.

On cross examination, attorney Theodore Lavit asked if Coleman's prints were found on the trash bags. Schade said they weren't.

Lavit also made the point that Coleman doesn't have a criminal record with the TBI.

Lavit had Schade run through a list of items investigators processed. None of Coleman's prints were found on any of them.

Newsom's mother recalls son being found murdered

Chris Newsom's mother, Mary, took the stand and told the jury her 23-year-old son was very athletic and spent the last day of his life playing golf.

She said they didn't feel concerned about Chris the weekend of his death until Channon's mother called and said she didn't show up for work.

Mary said they weren't able to get in touch with Chris and checks of the hospitals turned up nothing.

She described how Channon's family was able to trace her cell phone because it was on their account.

Mary said they stayed up all Saturday night wondering where Chris was and what had happened to him. They heard Channon's SUV was found around 2:00 a.m. Sunday.

Later Sunday, detectives came over to say Chris' body was found by the railroad tracks.

Mary identified Chris' belt, found with his body, and his hat, found in the Chipman Street house.

Christian's mother connects Coleman to daughter's items

Channon Christian's mother, Deena, told the jury her daughter often stayed at her best friend, Kara's, and commuted to school with her.

She was killed before graduating from the University of Tennessee. She also worked at a shoe store in the mall where she was an assistant manager.

Deena said Channon got off early from the shoe store on the Saturday night of the carjacking and went to Kara's apartment to get ready for a friend's birthday party.

She said Channon called very early Sunday morning and she thought she was coming home. She stayed up to let her in without waking anyone else.

Deena said Channon and Chris were going to watch a movie before she came home. She couldn't ever reach Channon on her cell phone.

Then she heard from Channon's boss Sunday saying she didn't open the store. She said, "That confirmed my worst nightmare."

Deena said their cell phone company was able to tell her Channon's cell phone last "pinged" off the Cherry Street tower.

Her son, husband, and others searched the area nearby and found Channon's SUV. Channon's items weren't inside and the seat was pushed too far back for her to drive. There was also mud all over the interior.

Deena said once they knew Chris' body was found by the railroad tracks, police "moved heaven and earth" to find Channon.

She identified photos of many of Channon's possessions and her clothing that was entered into evidence.

One of the items Deena identified was Channon's gray purse found in a trash bag in the Chipman Street house.

As Deena examined items in evidence she pulled out the red purse that's allegedly Coleman's and said, "This is not Channon's purse."

She connected some of her daughter's possessions to the red purse including a bottle of Brittany Spears perfume. She said Newsom bought that for her daughter.

Deena's testimony is key to the state's case claiming Coleman benefited from these crimes.

Coleman mouthed "I love you" to her parents as she was led from court during a break. They nodded to her.

Witness says Davidson in stolen SUV

The state called Dan Williams to the stand. In prior trials, it was revealed he bought drugs from Davidson. He told the jury he saw Davidson in Christian's 4Runner with two others.

Jurors to write accounts of flooding impact

Judge Baumgartner decided Tuesday he'll allow three jurors directly affected by the flooding in Davidson County, where they're from, to write about it.

They're not allowed to discuss the trial in their accounts, which will be given to the media on Wednesday.

The judge said earlier Tuesday he would allow the jurors to talk to the media off camera about how the floods affected them, but he changed his mind.


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