In Day 3 of retrial, jurors hear recording of Thomas' interview

In Day 3 of testimony, jurors hear recording of Thomas' interview with investigators

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Stacy Lawson identifies a rifle she saw Davidson and Cobbins with. Stacy Lawson identifies a rifle she saw Davidson and Cobbins with.
Channon's father, Gary Christian, rocked slightly in his seat as he listened to testimony. Channon's father, Gary Christian, rocked slightly in his seat as he listened to testimony.
George Thomas listens to an audio recording of an interview he did with Knox County investigators. George Thomas listens to an audio recording of an interview he did with Knox County investigators.
Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan explains evidence from the garbage can Christian's body was found in. Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan explains evidence from the garbage can Christian's body was found in.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - George Thomas' ex-girlfriend Stacy Lawson took the stand and an interview between Thomas and investigators was played in day three of testimony for the Christian-Newsom defendant.

Thomas is being retried for his part in the brutal murders of Knoxville couple Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.

He was originally convicted on 38 counts and sentenced to life in prison without a chance at parole, but the decision was thrown out because the original judge later revealed that he was addicted to pain pills while presiding over the trial.

Witness after witness testified on Monday and Tuesday, describing the crimes and detailing Thomas' whereabouts at the time.

While state attorneys have focused on the heinous nature of the crimes and heard emotional testimony from the victims' mothers, defense attorneys have been quick to point out the lack of evidence tying George Thomas to the crimes, saying he was merely a witness.

On Wednesday, two witnesses took the stand to discuss phone calls and records from the days of the crimes.

The cell phone call times given in their testimony supported the timeline of events the state has laid out.

Thomas' ex-girlfriend, Stacy Lawson, called to the stand

Stacy Lawson, George Thomas' former girlfriend, testified next.

Lawson lived in Kentucky and described how she knew Thomas, Letalvis Cobbins and LeMaricus Davidson.

Lawson said that she and Thomas had dated for a year and that she loved him.

In December of 2006, she said she and Thomas took a trip to Knoxville. She drove with Cobbins and Thomas to stay with Davidson.

Lawson spoke about the Chipman Street house where Christian's body was found, saying it was small and blankets were used as doors. She said you could hear people in other rooms having relations.

She said she had a cellphone while at the house and said that none of the people living there were working at the time.

On New Year's Eve, Lawson described them shooting off guns. She said she saw a revolver, but did not see Thomas with a gun.

Lawson said at one point Davidson put a gun in her face. She told Thomas she was ready to leave and asked him to return to Kentucky with her, but he wanted to stay, she said.

She said her cell phone service was cut off on Jan. 4.

Lawson said she later saw Thomas at the home of Natosha Hays in Kentucky and said the group looked scared.

"They didn't look like their selves. They looked like something was wrong and it wasn't a good feeling," she said.

She said Thomas was watching Knoxville news on a computer upstairs and she saw a photo of Davidson and Cobbins listed as suspects.

She asked Thomas what was going on and he wouldn't say. She said she asked Thomas to stay at her mother's house with her, but he wouldn't.

State attorneys asked her to identify photos of the Chipman Street house and some of the rooms.

She said she and Thomas slept in the living room on a comforter on the floor.

She also identified guns that she saw Cobbins and Davidson with.

State attorneys asked her if she still cared for Thomas.

"In a way, yes," Lawson said.

Under cross examination, the defense asked Lawson if Thomas has a gun, cell phone or car. She replied that he didn't.

She confirmed that Davidson always had a gun on him and that she did not see any guns other than the ones that Cobbins and Davidson had.

Natosha "Blue" Hayes was the next witness called. Hayes was friends with Letalvis Cobbins and Vanessa Coleman and later met Thomas. The group stayed with her in Kentucky.

Hayes described riding back to Kentucky from the Chipman Street house in Stacy Lawson's car before Christmas 2006.

She said Lawson, Cobbins, Coleman and Thomas left for Knoxville on Dec. 28 and came back to her home after New Year's.

When they came back, Thomas asked to use her computer, she said.

She saw Thomas with bullets and asked him about it, but he didn't explain anything about them.

"He had some coins and some bullets. I saw them and I said, 'What is that?' and he kind of said it was nothing," she said.

Former drug client of Davidson's testifies

Darin Williams, who used to purchase cocaine from LaMaricus Davidson, was next to testify.

Williams testified that he saw Davidson and two other men in Christian's 4Runner. He said someone else may have been in the back seat.

Jury hears recording of Thomas interview

Nevil Norman with the Knox County Sheriff's Office testified about an interview he conducted with Thomas.

"Thomas was read his rights and agreed to the recorded interview" Norman said.

Transcripts of the interview were handed out to jurors to follow along with the audio.

In the interview, Thomas discussed how Cobbins and Davidson were arguing.

The interviewer asks Thomas about Davidson, Cobbins and Eric Boyd leaving the house and coming back with an SUV and a white guy and girl.

"I was like, OK. I'm thinking, 'Aw, man. What are y'all doing?' I'm trippin'. I went to the back room and smoked some weed," Thomas said in the audio recording.

During this time, Channon's father, Gary, seemed to be staring at Thomas in the courtroom, but the defendant never met his gaze.

"I know the girl was there in the bedroom with Davidson," Thomas said in the interview. "I was like, 'What's going on?' in my head."

Thomas said he didn't remember seeing Newsom much, but that when he did, he was blindfolded and his hands were tied. He said he was pretty sure Christian was also blindfolded.

Investigators asked what happened when they went to the bedroom. Thomas said all three of us had left.

Thomas admitted to being in Channon's SUV. He said Davidson drove and after that, he didn't go back over to Davidson's house.

When asked more about the white guy and girl that came in blindfolded, Thomas said, "I remember, but I wasn't paying too much attention."

He said he heard the others talking about going to carjack a vehicle.

Thomas said the girl ended up in the bedroom and they took the boy back outside. He said he went to the back room and smoked a marijuana blunt and listened to the radio.

Thomas said he lied about leaving the Chipman Street house and talked more about Newsom being walked around.

He said Channon didn't say anything to him.

"They kept saying, 'Let me finish what I'm doing with her,'" Thomas told the interviewer.

Norman testified that after the recorded part of the interview ended, he asked Thomas why he didn't help her.

Norman said Thomas looked him straight in the eye and said, "F--- that white girl, she didn't mean nothin' to me. You cops come to my neighborhood and kill us. Why should I get involved in something that's none of my business?"

In cross examination, defense attorney Tom Dillard read the transcript and said that Thomas wanted to leave.

Dillard asked Norman if Thomas cursed during the interview and he said no, that only investigators swore.

Norman was asked why it took 17 months to file the paperwork about the statement Thomas made after the interview stopped recording.

State attorneys call more witnesses to the stand

The next to testify was a witness from the detention center where Thomas was held, who discussed recorded jailhouse calls between Thomas and Stacy Lawson.

The recording was played for jurors.

Dillard pointed out that in the transcript Thomas said he didn't do anything.

"What he says is, 'You know what I'm saying. I wanted to go right now 'cause I ain't trying to set up in here,'" Dillard said.

In the call, he told Lawson he did leave the house. She asked why he didn't help the girl.

"It's none of my business," he replied.

State attorneys also read portions of letters between Thomas and both Davidson and Cobbins.

In the letters, Thomas used the terms "bro" and "brother love till the world blows."

Medical examiner gives gruesome details of deaths

Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan was the last witness called by the state.

Jurors took notes throughout her testimony.

Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan said she has done thousands of autopsies. She began going through the autopsy photos of Christopher Newsom and explaining her findings.

Friends and family of the victims looked away from the projector as the images were shown.

Gary Christian rocked back and forth and had his hand on his face. He looked at Thomas as the medical examiner testified.

Jurors were shown images of Newsom's burnt body and his bound ankles. Thomas looked at the photos.

Chris' father Hugh Newsom put his arm around his wife, Mary. They leaned their heads together and looked straight ahead to avoid seeing the photos of the son.

The medical examiner said Newsom was shot in the neck and back first and then in the head.

She testified that he was penetrated anally while he was still alive. The gunshot wound to the head was the fatal shot. Newsom was dead when he was set on fire, she said.

She said the gunshot wound to the back paralyzed him before he was shot in the head.

Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan talked about Christian suffocating in the trash bag inside a garbage can while she was tied in the fetal position.

When her tied up body was shown, her father, Gary, looked away.

Though many of the photos were graphic, not all of the photos that were included in the original trial were allowed in this retrial.

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