Coleman's journal entries don't match fear for life claims

Vanessa Coleman's journal entries don't match fear for life claims

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Vanessa Coleman Vanessa Coleman
This is one of the pages in Coleman's journal. This is one of the pages in Coleman's journal.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Journal entries the state said Friday were made by Vanessa Coleman don't match her claims that she feared for her life in the Christian-Newsom murders.

Case background

Coleman, 21, is the fourth defendant to stand trial for the robbery, rapes and murders of Christian and Newsom, her boyfriend. 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 trash bags 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. He rented the Chipman Street house with his ex-girlfriend, Daphne Sutton.

Coleman implicates other defendants in police interview

With ATF Agent Bernard Waggoner on the stand for a second day, the state resumed playing a police interview with Coleman.

She told investigators about cooking a large breakfast for Cobbins, Thomas and Davidson on the Sunday after the carjacking.

She said they left Chipman Street later that day in Christian's stolen Toyota 4Runner, leaving Christian tied up on a bed alone in the house.

When they returned, Coleman said Cobbins went into the bedroom to check on Christian.

Coleman said she was in the shower when Sutton came to the house Sunday evening and Christian was put in the back bedroom closet.

On Sunday, Coleman said Thomas and Cobbins played a video game.

When they saw a swarm of police in the area, Davidson said, "Well if they come knock on the door, let me know."

Coleman claimed Davidson threatened to kill her when she said she would call police after he choked Christian and tried to snap her neck with his hands on her chin and the back of her head.

She said she didn't see Christian being stuffed in the trash can, but she could hear the trash bags being used.

Cobbins got mad at Coleman when she tried to leave. "He slammed me against a wall and I cut my ankle on a nail," she said.

"I was scared out of my mind. I didn't know what was going on," Coleman said. But after she threatened to call police, she said Davidson and Cobbins watched her closely.

Coleman said there wasn't a trash can at the Chipman Street house when she got there, and it might have been brought in just before or after Christian was strangled.

She said Thomas admitted to shooting Newsom and "He says he shouldn't have done it."

Christian drank about half the water Coleman said she brought her on Saturday night.

"Who did this to this girl?" one of the investigators asked. She said Cobbins, Thomas and Davidson all had a role in it.

Waggoner reminded Coleman that she initially lied to authorities."I didn't have anything to do with it," she said. "I didn't do anything."

She admitted that she didn't call police, even after getting back to Kentucky, where she and Cobbins and Thomas were arrested. "Well I knew they were in gangs and stuff," she said.

When asked how she couldn't hear Christian being brutally raped for 24 hours, Coleman maintained, "I never heard her scream."

She also admitted she was "pissed" when she saw Cobbins go in the bedroom where Christian was being held. She said she didn't tell him because he wasn't the type to care.

Coleman said Cobbins held Newsom at gunpoint while Christian was brought into the Chipman Street home.

When the interview ended, prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald asked Waggoner about Coleman's claim of being injured. He said he didn't see any blood.

Fitzgerald emphasized that Coleman covered for Cobbins, at first denying he raped Christian.

On cross examination, defense attorney Theodore Lavit asked Waggoner if Newsom was in Christian's SUV with Davidson, Thomas and Eric Boyd, how many people were in the house?

Waggoner said three, under that scenario. Lavit wanted to make the argument that Coleman was never left alone in the house with Christian.

Boyd is serving an 18 year federal sentence on accessory charges in this case.

At one point, Lavit had Waggoner write "not asked" on a display board for the jury multiple times to emphasize that Coleman wasn't asked if she was threatened.

The jury asked why Waggoner had his own attorney with him. Judge Richard Baumgartner said it's federal procedure.

Waggoner told the jury he doesn't know for certain if Coleman was ever left alone with Christian and he doesn't know if there was drinkable water at the Chipman Street house.

The jury asked if there was any reason Coleman couldn't say she was threatened. He said no.

Waggoner answered another jury question saying he didn't know of anyone giving Coleman a medical exam after she claimed she was injured.

Officer reads Coleman letter with crime details

The state called Knox County sheriff's Officer Frank Nauss, who runs the inmates' mail room, to the stand.

He made a copy of a letter from Coleman to her mother written in late May 2007 because it contained a diagram and stick figures about this case. He said he believed it was relevant to her charges.

Nauss read the letter to the jury. Coleman wrote about not knowing whose clothes Davidson gave her and first said she never touched the "girl (Christian)."

Then Coleman wrote that she touched the girl once when she was forced to check her pulse.

Coleman also said she tried to leave, but was stopped, and that all three men were there when Christian was killed.

The letter included crude drawings showing where people were during the crimes.

Police investigator interviews Coleman

Knoxville Police Department investigator Todd Childress testified about his notes of a January 18 interview of Coleman. It wasn't recorded.

She told Childress about her visits to Knoxville, and that Davidson was "very controlling."

Coleman said Davidson and others left the Chipman Street house the night of the carjacking and returned an hour later with Christian.

She said Thomas asked Davidson about Christian and Davidson said, "Don't worry about it. She's a rich white girl and she doesn't want to die."

Childress said Coleman claimed to be in the bathroom when Sutton came by the house and when Boyd was there.

She claimed to see Davidson and Thomas hog tie Christian after she was choked, and said she never saw Christian again.

Cobbins told Davidson, "Whatever you do, do it fast," according to Coleman.

She also said she was in fear of her life.

Childress said he didn't tell Coleman she was under indictment before a January 31 interview because he was "under no legal obligation" to. He said he also didn't think she'd be truthful if she knew beforehand.

The jury asked Childress why he didn't record the earlier interview of Coleman, and he said he had no reason.

The jurors questioned whether Coleman was in the shower during Sutton and Boyd's visits. Childress said she apparently took a long shower.

Coleman's DNA found on evidence

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Agent Jennifer Millsaps took the stand as a DNA expert.

She testified that no fingerprints link Coleman to the crimes. However, DNA found on floral bedding matches her.

A piece of that same floral bedding has Christian's blood on it. The defense argues that Coleman's skin cells were present because she slept on the bedding.

Christian was bound with strips of this bedding.

Coleman's journal doesn't tell a fearful tale

Handwriting expert Larry Miller, from ETSU, said a journal entered into evidence was written in by Coleman.

The journal was found at the house where Coleman fled with Cobbins and Thomas in Lebanon, Kentucky. It was in a purse that had items from Christian.

Miller used a letter Coleman wrote in jail as a comparison.

One entry says, "How interesting is your life? I bet it won't compare to mine! Cuz I love my life!"

The journal entries attack defense claims that Coleman was under duress. One said, "I've had one hell of an adventure since I've been in the big TN. It's a crazy world these days, but I love the fun adventures and lessons that I've learned. It's going to be a long interesting year."


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