Witness puts Vanessa Coleman at house where Christian was killed

Witness puts Vanessa Coleman at house where Christian was killed

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Vanessa Coleman Vanessa Coleman
Daphne Sutton admitted that she lied to federal marshals when she was first picked up, but said she can't remember what lies she told. Daphne Sutton admitted that she lied to federal marshals when she was first picked up, but said she can't remember what lies she told.
Firearms examiner Patricia Resig handles a gun that's part of the evidence in this case. Firearms examiner Patricia Resig handles a gun that's part of the evidence in this case.
Resig helps demonstrate the size of the Chipman Street house at a little over 800 square feet. Resig helps demonstrate the size of the Chipman Street house at a little over 800 square feet.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A witness for the state Wednesday said Vanessa Coleman was at the house where a victim in the Christian-Newsom murders was found dead.

Before testimony began, Judge Richard Baumgartner asked the jurors whether the flooding in Nashville, where they're from, is a distraction. They said not enough to interfere with the trial.

Convict's ex-girlfriend says Coleman at house

Daphne Sutton, the ex-girlfriend of LeMaricus Davidson, was the state's first witness.

Davidson was given the death sentence for his role in the murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom in January 2007.

Sutton rented the house at 2316 Chipman Street with Davidson. It's where officers found Christian's body on Tuesday, January 9. Newsom's body was found along some train tracks nearby on Sunday, January 7.

Sutton said she and Davidson had a rocky relationship with lots of arguments.

She said she moved out of the house just before Christian and Newsom were killed because Davidson "put his hands on me." At the time, Coleman, along with her ex-boyfriend, Letalvis Cobbins, and his friend, George Thomas, were staying there.

Cobbins and Thomas are both serving life without parole for the murders.

Sutton said on Sunday, January 7, 2007 she went to the house and tried to get into the bathroom to get her makeup, but Davidson blocked her. He also wouldn't let her in the kitchen.

She said Davidson gave her some clothes and she left. She said Cobbins and Thomas were in living room, but she didn't see Coleman at the time.

Sutton said she heard noises from the bathroom. The state says Coleman was holding Christian hostage in the bathroom.

Later Sutton realized the clothes Davidson gave her weren't her size and gave some to her friends. Plus, the clothes included a red skirt. She said he didn't like her to wear red because he was in the Crips, which wears blue.

The clothes turned out to belong to Channon Christian.

Sutton admitted she first lied to police about what she knew because "I was scared."

Sutton identified floral sheets and parts of curtains that were found with the victims.

As the state showed police video of the house interior, Sutton identified many items she said were out of place.

Sutton described Eric Boyd as "an associate of LeMaricus." Boyd is serving an 18 year federal sentence on accessory charges in this case.

On cross examination, defense attorney Theodore Lavit asked Sutton why she thought Coleman was in Knoxville permanently.

Sutton said Coleman had warrants on her in Kentucky and didn't want to go back, but after Lavit raised his voice asking if she knew that for a fact, she said no.

Sutton said she couldn't recall if Cobbins and Coleman slept on a floral cover. Lavit said that's not what she testified to before a federal grand jury 10 days after the murders.

Lavit read from Sutton's federal testimony regarding Davidson's violent temper. Sutton agreed that Davidson had a quick temper.

Lavit asked Sutton about her visit to the Chipman Street house on January 7 to get her items. She said, "I didn't see Vanessa (Coleman), but I heard something from the bathroom."

Lavit asked when Sutton learned Newsom's body being found. She said it's been so many years since the murders happened, "I can't remember when I learned about a body being found."

Lavit asked Sutton if she lied to federal marshals in the beginning. She said yes, but she doesn't remember exactly what lies she told.

Sutton and a friend dropped Davidson off after learning about the murders. She wasn't charged with anything. Lavit drilled that point home. Sutton was picked up U.S. marshals 20 minutes after dropping Davidson off.

Channon Christian's father, Gary, stormed out of the courtroom at that point.

A juror asked Sutton why she kept going back to Davidson if he was abusive. She said she was young, on drugs and thought she was in love.

A juror also asked how Sutton knew Coleman was in the bathroom of the Chipman Street home when she was there. Sutton said she can't testify about what someone else told her.

Sutton eventually cried on the stand, and said she was frustrated.

Parents' sympathy rebuffed

During a break, Coleman's parents told the media they wanted to convey sympathy to the Christians. Gary Christian responded, " I wish he never had a daughter."

Witness drove Coleman and others to Kentucky

The state called Jody Long to the stand. She described taking Cobbins, Coleman and Thomas to Kentucky in exchange for drugs and money. She said she found out about the crimes after the trip.

The judge instructed the state not to question Long about smoking marijuana with the three during the trip.

Long said no one talked much during the ride, and the trio didn't seem unusual. She said she didn't know the trio. She was asked to drive them by her alleged drug dealer, who was a friend of Davidson's.

Long didn't report the trip to police until they contacted her a year later. "I was strung out on drugs and scared," she said.

On cross examination, Lavit pointed out that Long wasn't charged with anything.

Coleman's charges followed immunity offer

After lunch, the judge ruled that the jury can be told Coleman was offered immunity in this case, but later charged with the crimes.

Victim's cell phone used

A cell phone executive testified about Newsom's cell phone used during the murders.

Another cell phone worker explained to the jury how Christian's cell phone was pinging its signal off a tower on Cherry Street, close to Chipman Street.

Bleach stain on victim's clothing

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Agent Randall Nelson testified that he analyzed a stain along the neck line of a tank top Christian wore and found it contained bleach.

Davidson found with victim's shoes

Forensic examiner Gerald Smith, with the Knoxville Police Department, took the stand and detailed the items found at the empty house where Davidson was arrested on Reynolds Street.

Newsom's Nike Shox tennis shoes were among those items, along with a .22 caliber revolver in a jacket pocket.

Convict's girlfriend says she took Coleman to murder house

The state called Thomas' ex-girlfriend, Stacy Lawson, to the stand. She traveled with Coleman and others to the Chipman Street house three times in late 2006 and early 2007.

Lawson said she saw two revolvers and a rifle at the house. She fired one on New Year's Eve.

Lawson said she left after Davidson put a rifle in her face. She said she asked Coleman to go home with her, but Coleman refused.

Lawson said she next saw the trio on January 10 at Natosha Hays' house in Lebanon, Kentucky and "They looked scared." She said Coleman claimed she came home with her.

She described looking at a computer and seeing reports about the Knoxville murders. Lawson later told officers where to find the suspects.

On cross examination, Lawson admitted to defense attorney Russ Greene that she also left Knoxville to take care of her child.

Lawson said she saw Coleman and Cobbins sleeping on a floral sheet or comforter. Coleman's skin cells were found on that cloth with Christian's body.

The jury asked Lawson who logged in on the computer where she saw the murder coverage, but she didn't know.

Kentucky connection says Coleman caught at her house

The state called Natosha Hays who told the jury she knew Cobbins through a temp service and met Coleman through Cobbins.

On cross examination, Lavit asked Hays about being taken to the police station in Kentucky. she said they "threw me in a car. I had no choice."

Hays and Coleman were released from custody. She describes a police search of her home.

The jury asked Hays what day of the week police came to her house. She thought it was Thursday.

Kentucky friend found gun left in box

A friend of Hays, Jennifer Allen, testified that Coleman went into a bedroom in Hays' house alone to get clothes, but left it without any. She said she found a gun in a shoe box in that room later.

She identified a photo of the gun in the box.

On cross examination, Lavit asked if Coleman brought the box into the house and Allen said "No."

Lavit also asked if it's significant that Coleman came in the house with her hand in her pocket and Allen said, "No."

State shows how small murder house was

Firearms examiner, Patricia Resig, with the Knoxville Police Department used a tape measure to  show the jury that the Chipman Street house was a little over 800 square feet inside. It could fit in the courtroom.

Resig told the jury she can't definitively say the guns found in this case were used to kill Newsom.


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