Friday, April 06, 2007

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 attorneys
Run Date 2/21/2007
Body Text
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.
I 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.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Horrid affair. But it brings up my reservations about the death penalty. I can support it in theory, but I cannot support it in fact. It is a personal issue, just that I could not throw the switch or inject the drugs. I understand and accept people who support the death penalty, but I cannot bring myself to.


9:23 AM, April 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad to clarified this since many of us are not that familiar with the legal system.

I have to agree with Trey here. I understand why people support the dealth penalty but I also could not bring myself to do so.

9:28 AM, April 06, 2007  
Blogger Yankee James said...

Great blog! Please keep us updated on this case!

12:04 PM, April 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please listen and see beyond the name as well as the baggage that goes along with it. It concerns the murders

12:46 PM, April 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could definitely pull the switch on these creatures and quite a few others I can think of.

Unfortunately, executioners don't get to choose who they execute - they have to kill whoever comes through the door. I wouldn't want to be in that situation.

12:51 PM, April 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I could definitely pull the switch on these creatures and quite a few others I can think of.

Could you execute an innocent person? Because a frequently incompetent and often corrupt government eventually will. Which is exactly why we should not have a death penalty.

5:10 PM, April 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know,You're not very smart for a doctor

I don't think anyone expects the scum to walk free, cleared of all charges.

People who have heard about these murders cannot help but think that if this were a case where the victims were black, There would be media hysteria DEMANDING federal charges(HATE CRIME)and constantly browbeating the public into demanding justice.

People are beginning to see that that"equlity" includes EVERYONE but white people.

I could go on and on, but why bother.


9:15 PM, April 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Politics of this case asisde, is anyone discussing the horror and agony these 2 people went through in their last 4 days of life? It seems nobody wants to touch the details of this case with a 100 mile pole. Too horrible.

9:20 PM, April 06, 2007  
Blogger LissaKay said...

I just hope there is better justice in this case than there was for my brother's murderer. Ask JJ and Jamie about Kenya Shell ... after getting arrested numerous times while out on bond, yet not being yanked back in to jail until Jamie made a fuss in the KNS, he was finally allowed to plead to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for a guilty plea on a felony cocaine charge. The prosecutors office played politics ... it was more important to get another drug conviction than a murder conviction.

Shell served one year in jail for BOTH crimes before probation for 11 years. He eventually got arrested enough times to have his probation revoked, but he only spent another year in jail. He's out now.

My brother would be 41 years old now. He was 29 when he was killed.

Do not think that Knox County will not play politics with this case too. There is no justice to be had here.

2:03 AM, April 07, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


I am very sorry to hear about your brother. I realize that the justice system is broken in many ways here, and in this country in general. People who should be in jail are allowed to go free for the most horrible crimes against persons and those who commit crimes of a lesser nature such as drug use or growing marijuana often languish in a jail cell. I think as citizens, it is imperative that we fight for justice and the rights of victims in our society. Too often, the rights of criminals are the ones who are protected if it serves the purpose of the state or government.

8:47 AM, April 07, 2007  
Blogger LissaKay said...

@16 Valve ... I think you are very wrong about Helen being smart. She is wickedly intelligent ... and very nice to boot.

What Helen is addressing is the really dumb people in this area that are prone to knee-jerk reactions. Check out the forums on for an idea of how unintelligent some people are. Reading those forums is painful ... and scary. They live among us.

But you are 100% correct in how media treats crimes differently depending on the race of the perpetrators and victims. Just compare the coverage of this case to that of the Duke Lacrosse players and the rape that never happened. My brother's case got a brief mention on the TV news (and in other news ... ) and a page 3 article in the paper. It got a little more coverage when Jamie Satterfield found the numerous arrests while out on bond for the killer, but my brother's death was only mention in passing, as the reason for the scandal regarding the killer, not as the focus of the issue. He was just a stupid white kid that was in the wrong place at the wrong time that met up with the wrong person *shrug* and that's what "those people" do, is kill white boys lost in the wrong part of town.

Oooh, isn't that racist??

10:25 AM, April 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon & oligonicella:

The point of my second paragraph was that the executioner is the one person in the system who is not allowed to act on any doubts that may exist about the "true" guilt or innocence of the criminal.

I would not want to be in that position. If I had the authority to kill someone, I'd ALWAYS want the ability to choose not to kill them. Believing that the state has already decided someone's fate and that I'm just the instrument bringing it about wouldn't help much.

I need to read Albert Pierrepoint's biography, maybe figure out how he did it.

2:58 PM, April 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is shamefully "old" news and misrepresentative of the concerns of bloggers and forum commenters on this case.

I haven't seen one person worry about the federal charges in this case. Instead, concerns are about the lack of reporting of black on white crime, the lack of fresh reporting of any kind since Thomas and Coleman's court appearance and the level of violent perpetrated against the two victims.

This is an extremely serious case that has triggered a lot of rage across the country. You water it down to make it seem like mere intellectual concern. It is not. It's an emotional fireball.

4:47 PM, April 08, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Anonymous 4:47:

I did hear that people were concerned about the federal charges being dropped and thinking that this meant the death penalty etc. was off the table. In my post, I tried to clarify for readers that the charges were being brought up in Knox County rather than federal court. That said, I understand your concern. In no way have I tried to "water it down to make it seem like an intellectual concern." I think what happed to Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom is atrocious and should be in the press and people should be kept informed on the case. If the press is not doing their job, that is a problem and should be addressed. Perhaps the press does not say much because as you say, it is an emotional fireball. If this is the case, it is wrong--we as concerned citizens have a right to know what is happening with this case.

9:54 PM, April 08, 2007  
Blogger knox said...

lack of fresh reporting of any kind since Thomas and Coleman's court appearance

I agree that the News Sentinel is doing a crappy job, but I wouldn't necessarily attribute bad reporting from the Sentinel to anything nefarious. Their writing/reporting is routinely bad, and often leaves more questions than answers. For example, even after reading the article, I still don't really understand why federal charges were dropped. The writer specifically says "to make way for" but it's not really explained what that means legally, or why it was necessary.

My perennial frustration with the Sentinel has kept me from ever being a subscriber; anytime there's a local story I want to follow, I am disappointed when I read the articles online or come across a copy of the paper elsewhere.

Certainly, if they are avoiding talking about the sadistic/violent nature of the crime for race or "fireball" reasons, that's wrong. But never rule out the possibility that their writers simply don't know what's worth reporting and what's not.

12:39 PM, April 10, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


Good points.

1:00 PM, April 10, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Death is not even a fair punishment for the crimes that were committed. Nobody deserves the torture that these two were forced to endure. I say we should dose them with large amounts of hallucinogens and make them relive it over and over again. It's being used to show heroin addicts the errors of their ways so why not this? They should be forced to see what they have done for what it truly is. Just a thought.

7:15 PM, May 16, 2007  
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