Graphic photos stay as evidence in Christian - Newsom murders

Graphic photos stay as evidence in Christian - Newsom murders

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By HANA KIM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- The judge ruled in a court hearing Thursday to keep most of the 70 disputed autopsy images the state wants as evidence in trials for the murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.

The young Knoxville couple was carjacked, raped and killed in January 2007.

Defense attorneys had taken issue with 70 of more than 500 pictures because the shots are from the autopsies.

Some of the pictures show Newsom's burned body. His arms are bound behind his back, a sock is in his mouth, a bandana covers his eyes and a sweatshirt secured around his head by a rope.

Newsom was also shot three times, in the head, shoulder and lower back.

Prosecutors also described Channon Christian's injuries in death.

They say she was raped, then stuffed in a trash can, pointing out the discoloration around her lips saying it was an indication that she died of aphyxiation.

The pictures were shown on laptops so only Judge Richard Baumgartner, the attorneys and the the defendants could see them during the court proceeding. However the victims families were given the option to see the images for the first time before Thursday's hearing. The parents say there was no hesitation no matter how shocking they were.

"He's my son I had no option, I felt like I let him down when were weren't allowed to see them 2 and half years ago," said Chris' mother Mary Newsom.

Family members say they want all the gruesome details to be shown to jurors. 

They were treated so inhumanely, I want the public, the jury everyone involved to hear all the details,"said Chris' father Hugh Newsom.

The Christian and Newsom families were visibly upset by the discussion of the pictures.

Meanwhile it got heated between the defense and prosecution. At one point, the defense called the prosecution whiners. Lemaricus Davidson's attorney Doug Trant said prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald was whining. The defense says the prosecution is fighting to show the graphic autopsy images in order to shock jurors.  

After the hearing on Thursday, Channon's father Gary Christian called the defendants animals and said it was especially hard  for all of them today because of the graphic images.  Three men and one woman are charged in the case: Letalvis Cobbins, Lemaricus Davidson,  George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman.

Earlier in July, Judge Baumgartner filed an order to deny Coleman's motion for immunity, as well as her motion to dismiss charges.

Coleman's attorneys were attempting to prevent her from being called to testify in the trial of another defendant, her then-boyfriend, Cobbins.

Thursday's hearing has a high security presence, about a dozen officers are in court.


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