Double Murder Case Update
I have received emails and seen on other blogs concerns about the double murder case of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. The concern stems from the federal charges against the suspects in the case being dropped. People mistakenly believe that the federal charges being dropped means that many of the charges of murder etc. are being dropped; it does not. "Those federal charages have since been dropped to make way for prosecution in the first-degree murder -- and likely capital -- case in Knox County." I received this article by email from the Knoxville News-Sentinel from JJ Stambaugh, a reporter there that will hopefully clarify for some of you that the wheels of justice are turning in this case:
Defendants in fatal carjacking _keep same federal court attorneysI hope this clears up some of the misunderstandings that are floating around and helps people to realize that the death penalty is still on the table and that the charges are being brought up in Knox County rather than in Federal Court.
Byline BY JAMIE SATTERFIELD, firstname.lastname@example.org
Run Date 2/21/2007
Fatal carjacking suspects and brothers Lemaricus "Slim" Davidson, 25, and Letalvis "Rome" Cobbins, 24, made their first appearance Tuesday in Knox County Criminal Court on a massive 46-count indictment unsealed against the pair and two others late last month.
They were joined by two familiar legal faces -- the same defense attorneys appointed to handle their respective cases when the pair were facing federal carjacking charges in the same double slaying. Those federal charages have since been dropped to make way for prosecution in the first-degree murder -- and likely capital -- case in Knox County.
Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner on Tuesday appointed veteran defense attorney David Eldridge to represent Davidson and longtime criminal attorney Kimberly Parton to defend Cobbins. Both are "death certified," a label under state law that means they are experienced enough to represent a defendant facing the death penalty.
Assistant District Attorney General Bill Crabtree isn't saying yet whether his boss will be seeking the ultimate penalty, but Baumgartner clearly is taking pains to be ready if he does.
Davidson and Cobbins are accused along with George "Detroit" Thomas, 24, and Vanessa Lynn Coleman, 18, in the January deaths of Channon Christian, 21, and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, 23. The pair were robbed, kidnapped, raped and killed, according to court records.
All four suspects have given statements to authorities. Crabtree told Baumgartner at Tuesday's arraignment that those statements likely would necessitate separate trials for each defendant. That's because the law limits the use of statements against one defendant if it incriminates another if both are being tried together.
Coleman, who was arrested earlier this month in Kentucky, is fighting extradition and has not yet been returned to Knox County.
Thomas' arraignment was postponed after Baumgartner discovered that attorney Ralph Harwell's brother works as an investigator in Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols' office and may not be able to handle the case.
George "Detroit" Thomas sits in Judge Richard Baumgartner's courtroom Tuesday. He is facing charges, along with brothers Lemaricus "Slim" Davidson and Letalvis "Rome" Cobbins, in the murder of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom. A fourth defendant, Vanessa Coleman, is fighting extradition from Kentucky.