KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – State prosecutors called witnesses Tuesday to set the timeline of the brutal rapes and murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom in January 2007.
On trial in Knox County Criminal Court is Eric DeWayne Boyd, the fifth suspect to be tried for murder in the long-running legal cases that have had the families endure trials, retrials and hundreds of court hearings.
Before noon, 5 witnesses took the stand — all of them in law enforcement. From Knoxville Police officers to an ATF agent, they walked jurors through the early weeks of January 2007.
“Shocked that we just let him go and we had to go find him. We were surprised that…” Myself, my partner, Jason Tarwater, in his SUV and 2 marked units, went back to Ridgebrook and as we pull into Ridgebrook, he was walking down the sidewalk. So we got lucky,” said former Knoxille Police Officer Ed Kingsbury.
Kingsbury, speaking about the developments between January 10-11, 2007 — when officers found George Thomas, Letalvis Cobbins, and Vanessa Coleman in Kentucky.
Through testimony, investigators get the first mention of Boyd’s name in relation to the crimes. It takes a few hours for that information to make it back to local authorities, after which, Boyd was arrested.
Boyd is already serving an 18-year sentence in federal prison for helping suspects in the case evade arrest. But state prosecutors are now seeking the death penalty for his alleged role in the crimes.
One prosecution witness said she no longer can remember some key events and details she testified to in earlier trials for the other suspects in the murders.
Adrienne Matthis, Boyd’s cousin, has testified in previous trials she loaned Boyd her white Sunbird on the weekend Christian and Newsom and were kidnapped and later found bullets in the car. On Tuesday, she couldn’t recall some of those events or what details she had testified to in previous trials. Mathis, however, did not deny her previous testimony, a point prosecutors emphasized to the jury.
In other testimony, Jay D. Ford, a Norfolk South railroad worker, recalled stopping his train after seeing what turned out to be Newsom ‘s burned body on the tracks.
On Monday, a jury of seven women and five men were picked to hear the case. Four alternates, three men and a woman, were also selected.
The trial before Judge Bob R. McGee is only the second before a Knox County jury.
Lemaricus Davidson, the alleged ringleader of the carjacking, kidnapping, rapes and murders, is the other suspect in the slayings tried by a Knox County jury. He was sentenced to death.
His brother, Letalvis Cobbins, is serving life without parole. Cobbins’ friend, George Thomas, is serving two consecutive life terms. Cobbins’ girlfriend, Vanessa Coleman, deemed a facilitator, is serving 35 years.
Both Thomas and Cobbins, however, have accused Boyd of the murder and rape of Newsom. Thomas is expected to testify. Boyd’s defense has noted that Thomas testimony is coming with a prosecution deal for a reduced sentence. Instead of serving two life sentences plus 25 years, for testifying, Thomas would serve 50 years at 85%.
The trial is being live-streamed on WATE.com.