Christian-Newsom mothers testify in Eric Boyd murder trial


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The mothers of the two victims testified Thursday as prosecutors nailed down more details and the timeline of the brutal torture, rape and murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom in January 2007

Their testimony came in the fourth day of the trial of Eric Boyd, the fifth person to be tried for the couiple’s deaths.

Gallery: Court photos from Thursday

Boyd, already serving an 18-year federal prison sentence as an accessory in the case, is being tried in Knox County Criminal Court for his alleged role as a participant in the crimes against the couple that centered in a small house on Chipman Street. He faces the death penalty.

Daphne Sutton cries on the witness stand as Knox County Assistant District Attorney TaKisha Fitzgerald, not pictured, shows Sutton a pair of jeans owned by Christian but given to Sutton by Lemaricus Davidson during the trial of Eric Boyd in Knox County Criminal Court on Thursday, August 8, 2019. Sutton was in a relationship with Davidson at the time of the murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom in 2007. (Brianna Paciorka / News Sentinel pool)

Former Knoxville Police officer Patricia Resig testified Thursday afternoon she measured the Chipman Street house, now torn down, where the Christian and Newsom were held. It had 805.8-square-feet would have fit inside the courtroom, she said.

Mary Newsom recalled when the families began worrying about Chris being missing.

“He wouldn’t call and I called several different times,” she said. “So we decided to call police. It was very unusual for him to not be calling in, checking in at home.”

She described when she learned his body had been found on a railroad tracks in Knoxville.

“He made a lot of different projects and things with his hands, he loved working with his hands, he did that, ” Mary Newsom said of her son. “He was working for BnF construction when this happened and helped build some beautiful homes.”

Deena Christian testified next about the last day she saw her daughter, Channon.

“When she walked out the door to go to work. I was standing there, and I told her, you know, to have a good day and to be careful and that I loved her and then she walked out the door and said love you too,I’ll see you later,” Channon Christian’s mother said.

Deena Christian, mother of Channon Christian, on the witness stand during the trial of Eric Boyd in Knox County Criminal Court on Thursday, August 8, 2019. (Brianna Paciorka / News Sentinel pool)

Deena Christian tried to call her daughter several times the night she was kidnapped and the calls sometimes rang and went to voicemail and sometimes went directly to voicemail. “I started getting a bad feeling,” she said. Her level of concern grew the next day when she was still unable to contact Channon.

A US Cellular engineer testified that a call from Channon Christian’s phone at 12:33 a.m. on Jan. 7, 2007, originated from an area that included the Chipman Street house where the couple was held.

Key state witness, George Thomas, was the first witness of the day, continuing testimony that began Wednesday afternoon. Thomas is one of four people already convicted and in prison for their involvement in the death of the couple.

Thomas testified under cross-examination Thursday by Boyd’s attorney Clinton Frazier he never saw or heard Christian being raped in the small Chipman Street where she was held, repeatedly raped and murdered.

“Mr. Thomas, we’ve already talked about how small 2316 Chipman Street is from the very beginning,” Frazier said. “Channon Christian was brutally raped and murdered within feet of you, you didn’t hear anything?”

Mary Newsom, mother of Christopher Newsom, is questioned on the witness stand by Knox County Assistant District Attorney TaKisha Fitzgerald, right, during the trial of Eric Boyd in Knox County Criminal Court on Thursday, August 8, 2019. (Brianna Paciorka / News Sentinel pool)

“No, I didn’t… like I said, I did not hear nor see her being raped,” Thomas said.

CASE HISTORY: Need to catch up on what has happened in the dozen years since the murder? Here’s a backgrounder.

Frazier asked Thomas if he understood the state’s sentence reduction deal was for his “truthful” testimony. Thomas said he was testifying truthfully. That “will be up to the jury” to decide, the defense attorney said.

Of the deal, Frazier asked Thomas if the deal was “basically gone from spending the rest of your life in prison, to one day you’re gonna get out.”

GALLERY: Court photos from Wednesday.

“Possibly” Thomas replied.

Former Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones said he interviewed three of the Christian-Newsom suspects after they were detained in Kentucky. Jones was not sheriff at the time.

Jones questioned suspects Vanessa Coleman and Letalvis Cobibns and Thomas in January 2007 in Kentucky.

Patricia Resig of KPD shows the jury bullets found in Christopher Newsom’s back during the trial of Eric Boyd in Knox County Criminal Court on Thursday, August 8, 2019. (Brianna Paciorka / News Sentinel pool)

“What he gave us, I thought was very truthful. I thought he was the most truthful one that I talked to,” Jones said. “But you never get the whole truth, ever. I’ve been doing this for 39 years and it just doesn’t happen.” 

As they have during all the previous trials and retrials, the Christian and Newsom families are in court.

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