- Murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom
Hugh Christopher Newsom, Jr., 23, and Channon Gail Christian, 21, were a couple from Knoxville,
Tennessee. According to a Tennessee grand jury, they were murdered and both were raped after being kidnapped early on the morning of January 7, 2007. Their vehicle had been carjacked. [cite news | last = Satterfield| first = Jamie| coauthors = Don Jacobs| title = Details of double slaying emerge| publisher = Knoxville News Sentinel| date = 2007-01-13| url = http://www.knoxnews.com/kns/local_news/article/0,1406,KNS_347_5277265,00.html| accessdate = 2007-06-12 ] [http://web.knoxnews.com/pdf/0202body_presentment.pdf Grand jury presentment in Christian/Newsom case] , Knoxville News Sentinel, 2007- 03-03] Five suspects have been arrested and charged in the case.cite news | last = Granju| first = Katie Allison| title = Female suspect arraigned in Channon Christian, Chris Newsom murders| publisher = WBIR-TV| date = 2007-04-18| url = http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=44337&provider=gnews| accessdate = 2007-06-12 ] The grand jury indicted four of the suspects on counts of murder, robbery, kidnapping, rape and theft, while one final suspect has already been convicted of federal charges as accessory after the fact to carjacking.
According to news reports, Christian and Newsom had gone on a date at a local restaurant on Saturday,
January 6, 2007, but did not return home. During their night out, the couple was "hijacked, bound and blindfolded and taken back to Lemaricus Devall 'Slim' Davidson's rented house on Chipman Street."cite news | last = Lohr| first = David| title = Christopher Newsom and Channon Christian Brutally Murdered As The Nation Looks on| publisher = Court TV/Crime Library| date = 2007-04-03| url = http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/original/0507/0301_channon_christian.html | accessdate = 2007-06-12]
Christian's parents found her abandoned
Toyota 4-Runnertwo blocks away from the Chipman Street house the following Monday with the help of her mobile phone provider. An envelope recovered from the vehicle yielded fingerprint evidence that led police to Lemaricus Davidson and 2316 Chipman Street. When police went to the address on Tuesday, January 9, they found the home unoccupied and Christian's body in a trash can in the kitchen.
According to the testimony of the Knox County Acting Medical Examiner at the subsequent trial of Eric Boyd, Newsom was repeatedly raped and then blindfolded, gagged, arms and feet bound and his head covered. Barefoot, he was either led or dragged outside the house to a set of nearby railroad tracks, where a gun was placed to the back of his head and fired. He was shot twice more, once in the neck and once in the back. His body was then set afire. Christian's death would come only after hours of sexual torture, medical examiner Mileusnic-Polchan testified. Christian suffered horrific injuries to her vagina, anus and mouth. She was not only raped but savaged with "an object," the doctor testified. She was beaten in the head. Some type of chemical was poured down her throat, and her body, including her bleeding and battered genital area, likely scrubbed with the same solution - all while Christian was alive, the forensic expert said. She was then "hog-tied," with curtains and strips of bedding, her face covered tightly with a small trash bag and her body stashed inside five large trash bags before being placed inside a large trash can and covered with sheets. Christian died slowly, suffocating, the medical examiner said." [http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/apr/16/jury-seeks-clarity-how-involved-boyd-had-be/ Victim's father: 'One down, four to go'] ", knoxnews.com, April, 16, 2008.]
news mediawas criticized by some for not giving the crime adequate coverage because the victims were white and the suspects black, but one commentator explained that "as bad as this crime is, the apparent absence of any interest group involvement or any other 'angle' might also explain the lack of coverage."cite web| coauthors = Associated Press| title = Media criticized in slayings with racial overtone| publisher = MSNBC| date = 2007-05-20| url = http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18745632/| accessdate = 2007-06-30 ] [cite news |first=Duncan |last=Mansfield |title=Critics say news media ignoring Knoxville couple slaying |url=http://www.jacksonville.com/apnews/stories/051707/D8P6ED601.shtml |publisher=Associated Press |date= 2007-05-17|accessdate=2007-05-17 ] [cite news | last = Alexander| first = Mark| title = Murder in Black and White| publisher = The Patriot Post| date = 2007-03-04| url = http://patriotpost.us/alexander/edition.asp?id=531| accessdate = 2007-06-12] This criticism was also fueled by erroneous early reports of dismemberment and mutilations. [http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2007/may/27/slaying-victims-lost-in-the-furor/ Slaying victims lost in the furor] , Knoxville News Sentinel, May 27, 2007] Most of the original reports with misinformation (reported from a federal deputy after the suspects' arrest in Kentucky) were later denied by the District Attorney. Police Chief Sterling Owen IV said that there is no indication the crimes were racially motivated and that the murders and assault "appears to have been a random violent act." [cite news
url=http://www.wbir.com/news/regional/story.aspx?storyid=45338 |title=City leaders say race not an element in Christian, Newsom murders |last=Watson |first=Kay |date=
2007-05-17|publisher= WBIR-TV|accessdate = 2007-05-17]
"There is absolutely no proof of a hate crime," said John Gill, special counsel to Knox County District Atty. Randy Nichols. "We know from our investigation that the people charged in this case were friends with white people, socialized with white people, dated white people. So not only is there no evidence of any racial animus, there's evidence to the contrary."cite news | last = Witt| first = H| title = What is a Hate Crime? | publisher =
Chicago Tribune| date = 2007-06-10| url = http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-murders_bdjun10,0,7633605.story?page=1&coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed| accessdate = 2007-06-15 ] Some commentators have disagreed, notably including white nationalist Hal Turner, claiming that such a crime would include a motive of racial hate. This viewpoint was also repeated, along with erroneous rumors about the crime, in some conservative-leaning media, including blogger Michelle Malkinon Fox News's " O'Reilly Factor" program.cite web| last = Sanchez| first = Casey| title = The Big Lie| publisher = Southern Poverty Law Center| date = Fall 2007| url = http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=819| accessdate = 2007-10-09] Prior to the DA's statement, Newsom's mother sympathized with the "hate crime" position stating, "It may have started out as a carjacking, but what it developed into was blacks hating whites." Christian's father (addressing those who used his daughter's death to suit their own agenda) appeared ambivalent, stating " [the crime] ain't about you." However, after the conviction of Eric Boyd, Christian clarified his belief that it was a hate crime, stating that "what they did, you don't do unless you hate."" [http://www.volunteertv.com/news/headlines/17879924.html Channon Christian's parents speak exclusively to WVLT] ", WVLT, April 17, 2008.]
Christian moved from
Louisianato Tennesseewith her family in 1997. She was a graduate of Farragut High School and a senior majoring in sociology at the University of Tennessee. On January 12 her family released a statement to thank the Knoxville community "for all their prayers and everything." A candlelight vigil was held on the university campus January 25, 2007 in her honor. In 2008, a GolfTournament and Memorial Foundation were established in Channon Christian's memory to provide a scholarshipfor a Farragut High SchoolSenior to attend the University of Tennessee.
Newsom, a former baseball player for the Halls High School Red Devils, graduated in 2002. He was interred at Woodhaven Memorial Gardens.
uspects and indictments
The four indicted were:
* George Geovonni "Detroit" Thomas, 27, faces a total of 46 charges. Thomas was indicted on 16 counts of felony murder growing out of the rape, robbery, kidnapping, and theft of Christian and Newsom, 2 counts of premeditated murder, 2 counts of especially aggravated robbery, 4 counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, 20 counts of aggravated rape, and 2 counts of theft.
* Lemaricus Devall "Slim" Davidson, 25, (b.
June 13 1981) faces the same 46 charges as Thomas. Davidson had also completed serving a five-year sentence in Tennessee on a previous felony conviction for carjacking and aggravated robbery on August 5 2006.
* Letalvis "Rome" Cobbins, 24, (b.
December 20 1982) also faces the same 46 charges as Thomas. In 2003, Cobbins was convicted of third-degree attempted robbery in New York state. He and Davidson are brothers.
* Vanessa Coleman, 18, was arrested by police in Lebanon, Kentucky. She faces 40 Tennessee state charges. Coleman was indicted on 12 counts of felony murder growing out of the rape, robbery, kidnapping, and theft of Christian and Newsom, 1 count of premeditated murder (of Christian only), 1 count of especially aggravated robbery (of Newsom only), 4 counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, 20 counts of aggravated rape, and 2 counts of theft.
In each indictment, the large number of rape counts were included to provide a range of options for prosecutors, not to reflect the number of rapes which actually occurred.cite news |first=Katie Allison |last=Granju | coauthor= Yvette Martinez |title=Christian, Newsom murder suspects in court |url=http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=42504 |publisher=
WBIR-TV|date= 2007-02-20|accessdate = 2007-06-12 ]
Further, Eric DeWayne "E" Boyd, 34, was arrested in connection with the fatal carjacking, though not indicted by the Knox County grand jury. Still, Boyd was charged in federal court as an accessory after the fact for helping the suspects evade the police. Later, Boyd was also accused by Thomas and Cobbins of rape and murder, and a search warrant was obtained for his DNA. [http://gray.ftp.clickability.com/wvltwebftp/pdf/boyd-search.PDF] , Knox County,
Tennesseefrom January 12 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-17] The accusations did not result in charges. [ [http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=48561&provider=rss WBIR.com | Knoxville, TN | Boyd could get double prison sentence with new indictment ] ]
The four suspects indicted in Knox County were originally scheduled to be tried separately, at trials scheduled between May and August 2008. However, the trial date for the subjects indicted in Knox County was moved back to 2009 in February 2008. [cite web| last = Brian| first = Gregory| coauthors = Kim Bedford| title = Christian-Newsom Murders: Trial for one carjacker moved to 2009, others could follow| publisher = WVLT-TV| date = 2008-02-14| url = http://www.volunteertv.com/home/headlines/15629542.html| accessdate = 2008-02-27] In an apparent attempt to force the prosecution to try the case with the least forensic evidence first, the attorneys for Thomas filed a motion for a speedy trial, arguing there was no forensic link between their client and the crime scene. [Jamie Satterfield. " [http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/mar/07/alleged-carjacker-wants-1st-trial/ Alleged carjacker wants 1st trial] ". knoxnews.com. March 7, 2008.] Thomas has been granted the motion and is scheduled to go on trial on August 11th. Judge Baumgartner recently ruled that Thomas' phone calls made from the jailhouse to his acquaintances are admissible as evidence. [cite news |first=Jamie |last=Satterfield |title=Judge: Recordings can be used in fatal carjackings case |url=http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/jun/25/judge-recordings-can-be-used-fatal-carjackings-cas/ |work=knoxnews.com |publisher=Knoxville News Sentinel |date=2008-06-25 |accessdate=2008-07-28 ]
District AttorneyRandy Nichols has announced that the state would be seeking the death penalty for both Cobbins (currently the first to go to trial) and Coleman if convicted. [Jim Balloch. " [http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2007/oct/12/state-can-delay-sharing-evidence/ State can delay sharing evidence] ". knoxnews.com. October 12, 2007.] cite web| last = Barker| first = Scott | title = Another death penalty notice in Christian-Newsom slayings| publisher = Knoxville News Sentinel| date = 2008-02-15| url = http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/feb/15/another-death-penalty-notice/ | accessdate = 2008-02-27] Davidson has also been indicted for a second robbery which was committed after the murders.cite news |first=Katie Allison |last=Granju |title=Trials set for suspects in Christian, Newsom murders |url=http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=45318 |publisher= WBIR-TV|date= 2007-05-17|accessdate = 2007-05-17 ] The publicity against the accused led the defense to argue that a change of venuewas required in order to ensure a fair trial. However, the state argued that an impartial jury could be found during " voir dire", and the presiding judge subsequently denied the motion as "premature." [Jamie Satterfield. " [http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2007/dec/01/judge-denies-change-of-venue-for-boyd/ Judge denies change of venue for Boyd] ". knoxnews.com. December 1, 2007.]
On April 16, 2008, Eric Boyd was found guilty in Federal court of being an accessory to a fatal carjacking and for failing to report the location of a known
fugitive. [ [http://www.volunteertv.com/news/headlines/17827469.html GUILTY: Eric Boyd's Christian-Newsom murder accessory trial over] , VolunteerTV.com, April 16, 2008.] Boyd's was the first case to go to trial, and he was the only suspect not charged with murder." [http://www.wate.com/global/story.asp?s=8168057 Accessory case deliberations to start Wed. in double murder] ", WATE.com, April 15, 2008.] He faces up to 22 years in prison for the convictions." [http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/apr/17/boyd-guilty-of-aiding-hideout/ Boyd guilty of aiding alleged ringleader in fatal carjacking] ", knoxnews.com, April 17, 2008.]
* [http://www.volunteertv.com/news/headlines/8036687.html Newsom, Christian Family Reaction w/Video]
* [http://www.volunteertv.com/special/headlines/5459231.html 5th Suspect Arrested in Double Murder, Announcement Expected Soon]
* [http://www.volunteertv.com/special Volunteer TV 8 Double Murder Suspect Indicted in Court]
* Martin, Roland S., " [http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/09/12/martin/index.html?iref=newssearch Commentary: Where is the outrage when humans are abused?] ," "
* [http://www.volunteertv.com/home/headlines/25348259.html, Withdraw Request for speedy trial ]
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