Day 4: Investigators detail Coleman interviews

Day 4: Investigators detail Coleman interviews

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Bernard Waggoner of the ATF testified about several interviews he conducted with Vanessa Coleman in Kentucky. Bernard Waggoner of the ATF testified about several interviews he conducted with Vanessa Coleman in Kentucky.
One page from Vanessa Coleman's diary. Rome refers to her boyfriend Letalvis Cobbins. One page from Vanessa Coleman's diary. Rome refers to her boyfriend Letalvis Cobbins.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Jurors heard testimony from investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Knoxville police, TBI and a handwriting analyst as the state wrapped up their case against Vanessa Coleman.

Coleman is being tried for a second time for her role in the torture, rape, murder and robbery of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.

Our past coverage of the murders and the cases in their entirety can be found here.

ATF investigator details another Coleman interview

On Friday, the prosecution called Bernard Waggoner of the ATF to the stand. He was part of the team that apprehended Coleman along with Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas in Kentucky.

Waggoner watched the suspects as others were being interrogated. He described discovering a red purse that contained Coleman's ID and journal. Both were entered into evidence.

Coleman was not originally charged and was released to her parents. Cobbins and Thomas were charged and held.

Waggoner said he later searched Chipman Street house and found bleach and Channon's clothes.

He said he next saw Coleman on Jan. 17 for her federal grand jury testimony. Waggoner did a pre-appearance interview.

He said Coleman told him she saw Channon brought to house and heard her say, "No, stop." Coleman said she went to bed and made breakfast next the next morning.

She claimed Thomas told her to lie about returning to Kentucky on Jan. 2.

Waggoner said he interviewed Coleman a second time.

In the second interview, Coleman admitted to seeing Lemaricus Davidson murder Channon. She also gave other information about the weekend.

Coleman's second interview was much more detailed, Waggoner testified.

"Now she says she witnessed the murder of Channon Christian and Davidson had gotten behind her and in her words are snapped her neck," he said.

She told federal investigators she could not leave the house.

She said she went into bedroom saw a girl tied up.

Waggoner said Coleman admitted to having her hands in the cloth bindings. That's when he said investigators decided to record the interview.

He said Coleman slept until nearly noon, knowing Channon was being held against her will. Then made a big breakfast the next day.

Coleman said Davidson threatened to kill her if she called police about killing Channon. They slept for several hours and then left, she said in the interview.

In the audio tapes, Coleman said she checked the girls pulse but did not help kill her, did not hold her hostage and did not help tie her up.

Linda Coleman pressed her daughter to tell the truth after being urged by Waggoner and Coleman changed her story again.

During cross examination, defense attorney Theodore Lavit asked the investigator about the number of times he interviewed Coleman.

Waggoner agreed that it was "about" nine interviews and said that Coleman did not refuse any interviews.

Lavit pressed Waggoner about the need for protective custody during one of Coleman's interviews with authorities.

Waggoner said Coleman never told him about attempting to flee the house and being brought back forcibly.

"She never told me that," he said on the stand.

Lavit asked him if had any knowledge she was watching the girl for Cobbins, Thomas and Davidson. Waggoner said, "Yes, she was in the house."

KPD investigator discusses interviewing Coleman

After lunch, the prosecution called Knoxville Police Department investigator Todd Childress.

KPD took over the investigation from the Knox County Sheriff's Office because the case was determined to be within their jurisdiction.

Childress described transporting Newsom's body to an ambulance and said another officer identified Newsom.

He testified that he was the one that told the Newsom family their son's body had been found.

Childress said they obtained a warrant to search Davidson's Chipman Street house. He was not home at the time, but Childress said the television was on and that they did not adjust the volume.

It was then they located Channon's body inside the garbage can.

He said at that point, the investigation shifted to locating Davidson. He explained on the stand how Coleman showed him different locations that were being looked into during the investigation.

Childress said he did not record the interview with Coleman, but took notes. He read those note to the jurors.

Her testimony with Childress about seeing the girl coming inside blindfolded was similar to the interviews she gave to ATF investigators and the grand jury.

But there were differences in the testimonies. In earlier interviews, she said that her boyfriend, Letalvis Cobbins, was not involved. In her interview with KPD, she said that he was more involved with the crimes.

Juror appears to nod off

At one point in the afternoon, the attention in the courtroom turned to one juror who appeared to be nodding off.

Judge Blackwood urged jurors to communicate with him if they were tired and he would call a break from them.

TBI's DNA expert identifies samples taken from bodies

Going into Friday evening, Jennifer Millsaps, a forensic DNA expert with TBI testified about collecting samples from the scene.

He said the sperm samples taken from Christian matched Davidson's DNA. He also matched DNA from an anal swab to him. An oral swab, he said, turned up positive for Cobbins' DNA, as did Channon's jeans and tank top.

Coleman's DNA was connected to a stain on a sheet from the crime scene as well as the strips of sheets used to tie Channon up.

During cross examination, Lavit asked if it was possible for DNA to be tranferred to a sheet that someone had slept on. Millsaps said it could.

Handwriting expert analyzes Coleman's diary

Handwriting expert Larry Miller compared samples from Coleman's diary with other samples of her writing.

He said the main thing he looked at was how she wrote her a's.

In the journal entries, Coleman writes "Vanessa Lynn hearts Rome" and describes the ride back to Kentucky and the woman who gave her the ride.

The journal contained the line in which Coleman referred to her trip to Tennessee as "one hell of an adventure."

"I love the fun adventures + lessons I've learned," she also said in the diary.

"How interesting is your life because I love my life," she wrote at another point.

During cross examination, Lavit pointed to an entry in which the handwriting differed.

The state then rested their case.

The defense is scheduled to begin calling their witnesses on Monday morning at 9:00 a.m.

6 News Anchor Gene Patterson and 6 News Reporters Stephanie Beecken and Alexis Zotos contributed to this report.

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