Eric Boyd Found Guilty Christian-Newsom Murders
Trial Begins May 2008, facts not speculation begin to emerge. Here is what I can find from local press reports and court documents:
Fact: there are 46 total charges against four people (not five people as the above pictures(s) suggest), three men and one woman, dated 31 January 2007. The charges are felony murder, 1st degree murder, es. agg. robbery (Cobbins, Davidson, Thomas only), esp. agg. kidnapping, esp. agg. rape, and theft. There's no mention of Eric Boyd, and Letalvis Cobbins and Letalvis Davidson are the same person. Letalvis "Rome" Cobbins; his girlfriend, Vanessa Coleman; his brother, Lemaricus "Slim" Davidson; and George "Detroit" Thomas all face the death penalty. Davidson is the alleged ringleader.
These are all federal charges related to carjacking.
As of May 15, 2007 the fate of 5th person, Eric Dewayne "E" Boyd, is in the hands of the jury. He is charged only with accessory after the fact, his attorney is Phil Lomonaco. Boyd is only being tried for hiding out and helping Davidson (the ringleader) evade arrest. The other four suspects have implicated Boyd in the slayings and even Boyd's own cousin, Nicole Mathis, gave testimony linking him to the crimes.
Much of the problem with Boyd is his contradictory statements on video tape recorded in 2007. According to Boyd, this all started over some money Davidson/others owed some drug dealers. He described his own life as "They ain't no telling what I did. I be ripping and running. ... Walking up and down the streets of Ridgebrook, just drinking, smoking and drinking and smoking weed, that's all I do every day. I may go to Labor Ready on occasion so I can get a little more buzz money."
He claimed he barely knew Davidson, then had to recant trying to explain how someone who really didn't know him spilled so many details about the killings. He helped hide Davidson, who according to his white girlfriend Daphne Sutton who was strutting around in Channon's jewelry while she was held by Coleman in the bathroom, that he was a convicted carjacker and "confessed" gang member. She slept with him anyway.
According to the press,
A single mother, Sutton, 22, testified Friday that she left Davidson the day before Christian and Newsom were kidnapped because he had abused her...On the same day she left Davidson, she went out with a man she only identified as "Black" to "eat and hang out." The following night, she had another date, this one ending in sex...On Sunday, she talked to Davidson, who asked her to come back to their Chipman Street house so he could give her some clothing he had bought for her...Davidson met her at the door and followed her inside...
...Letalvis "Rome" Cobbins, was sitting on a couch...(while) George "G" Thomas, "was rolling a blunt," which is slang for a cigar-style marijuana cigarette..." As soon as I (Sutton) reached the bathroom door, (Davidson) grabbed me and said, 'What are you doing?'" Sutton testified. "I said, 'Is Vanessa in there?' He said yes. It sounded like water was on, and something fell into the sink."
Daphne Sutton suspected the man was a killer, but "she chalked it up to denial...I did not know for sure he killed somebody...It was kind of like I lied to myself about it. I didn't want to believe it."
Boyd was supposed to be in the living room while Channon was being tortured in the bedroom, then claimed he was on the porch and was told to stay out, etc. That video tape seemed to his undoing. There's no indication they were there at the same time. This house by the way was Davidson's residence, Davidson was captured at another house Boyd helped him break into to hide from police. Jennings and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Stone did later present evidence suggesting Boyd knew about slayings because he was there at the Chipman Street house at the time the victims were being tortured.
According to press reports, "Boyd indicated Newsom and Christian never saw the attack coming...the young couple might have escaped the horrors that would follow but for a passing car. "They weren't able to carjack them...They just, I guess, a car was coming (so they) pushed them in, right in the car, because dude was giving the girl a kiss..."
Anthony Boyd, Eric's brother had this to say on local television:
"I want my brother to get a fair trial, to be able to move on with his life...The reason why we was so quiet about this case we heard, we read the paper too much...the paper itself was intimidating. We were actually scared to come out...a lot of people were furious...I wanted the media to know the whole truth...This is not a black/white issue...he did not really know these guys, guys he shot ball with, guys he really thought was his friends...I'm not bringing up race or nothing, but a white girl was involved in this case..."
As he went on about his brother about not being a devil or demon,
"He is a great brother, I love my brother, I'm there for him. He wouldn't hurt nobody like that...All my wishes go out for the family, I feel your pain and everything, but my brother's not who you want to go after...Put yourself in that position, I think he did the best thing he could at that time. I feel like she knew more than my brother about this case. I wonder why she is walking the streets today..."
He claims, as does Eric's lawyer, that "Daphne Sutton escaped prosecution because she, unlike Boyd, Davidson and three others implicated in the slayings, is white and related to (a niece?) a Knoxville Police officer." The problem according to other reports Boyd has prior robbery convictions, which will make any federal conviction far worse. Anthony forget to mention that.
George Thomas petitioned the court for a speedy trial, a request granted by the Court in April, and there's been no request to move the trial out of Knox County. Officials planned (in 2007) to try Cobbins first, then Coleman, then Davidson, and finally Thomas in 2008, but Thomas demanded a speedy trial and will get it August 11, 2008 and will be the first to face the hangman. Quoting stories from the Knoxville News Sentinel May 15-18,
"All had 2008 trial dates until (District Attorney) Price filed notice against each suspect of the state's intent to seek the death penalty. That move prompted immediate bids for trial delays from Cobbins, Coleman and Davidson, all of whom then had only one defense attorney each. The law requires defendants in death-penalty cases to have a second attorney skilled in capital-case work..."
Having granted George Thomas' demand for a speedy trial...Co-defendants Letalvis Cobbins, Vanessa Coleman and Lemaricus Davidson are expected to argue pre-trial publicity has tainted the potential jury pool. All four face the death penalty if convicted in the January 2007 kidnapping, rape, torture and slaying of Channon Christian, 21, and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, 23. (The Judge) said Thursday he would wait until after Thomas' trial to decide whether an unbiased jury can be selected in Knox County to hear the remaining three cases, which are scheduled for 2009.
And note from the Knoxville News Sentinel, "Coleman gave authorities a detailed statement that puts her at the crime scene, and there is DNA evidence linking Cobbins and Davidson to the rapes." At Boyd's trial state expert Mileusnic-Polchan testified how Channon Christian suffered a slow death.
"Christian had been beaten with enough force to cause bruising on her brain, but the worst injuries were sustained in what she described as a savage sexual assault. It's much more than a simple sexual trauma, it's extreme. She was not only repeatedly raped both orally, vaginally and rectally, but that it appears an object was used in the attack.
Christian had extensive injuries in the genital region and her mouth, including the tearing of the membrane that connected Christian's lips to her gums. She suffocated because she was placed into a forced fetal position inside the trash can as well as because of a plastic garbage bag that had been pulled tightly over her face...It was a slow asphyxia death...My conclusion was she actually died in the trash can."
Prosecutor Jennings earlier said about Chris Newsom,
"These people tie him up, gag him, wrap him in cloth material shot him in the back, shot him in the neck, one of those shots which would have left him paralyzed, and then shot a killshot to his head. Then, his body was doused with gasoline and set afire."
There's no mention of dismemberment of either victim, and Channon was not burned.
Boyd's Pretrial Antics
But the fun started even before Boyd's trial. During jury selection earlier in the week, Boyd kept staring and smiling at Chris Newson's father, who stormed out of the court with a friend. According to witnesses and security, Boyd kept whispering at Mr. Newsom, "Bring it on" or something like that. Others claim Mr. Newson made motions of aiming a gun at Boyd. Time to play the race card. The panel includes 4 men, 12 women, 15 white, and one black woman.
To quote the Knoxville News Sentinel,
A tense moment developed earlier today during juror questioning after Boyd repeatedly glanced and smiled at the Christian family. At one point he appeared to mouth "bring it on," according to the Christian family and court security personnel. Christian's father, Gary Christian, became visibly upset and left the courtroom with a friend. He cooled off and returned a short time later. Throughout these proceedings and others, Boyd has engaged the families of the victims, often staring at them.
Some extracts filed April 2, 2008 by James R. Dedrick, United States Attorney was in response to claims by Boyd of racism. First Boyd demanded a change in venue, but filed too late, the deadline for November 13, 2007. Also,
"...defendant argued that he could not receive a fair trial in Knoxville due to racial tensions in the community related to the case. (The( defendant generated media coverage by presenting radical and offensive web postings of unknown notoriety from unknown sources in unknown places...(the) defendant's request to play and/or display excerpts from those web postings was denied due to their irrelevance, and because the Court did not want to contribute to the ills of which defendant complained..."
Do they mean this website? Boyd's brother and other relatives appeared on local television to plead his case how he was innocent, and how so sorry they were to the victim's families. So far Boyd has shown no remorse at all to the best of my knowledge. There's some of the publicity. To continue,
"Moreover, the timing of the motions calls into serious question the motivation behind their filing. Defendant knew that his motions would result in front page headlines, but made no attempt to avoid further pretrial publicity...counsel for defendant gave a television interview on April 1, 2008, in which he discussed this motion. The interview aired on both Fox 43 and WATE 6 News during the evening of April 1, 2008..."
The change was denied. Boyd is harping racism again with claims of "selective prosecution." At trial Lomonaco again wanted the case tossed claiming "that either the government had not proven its accessory-to-carjacking case" and claimed "race-based decision-making in charging Boyd, but letting go Davidson's white girlfriend, Daphne Sutton." To quote pretrial records,
Defendant's case for selective prosecution relies primarily on excerpts from statements to law enforcement by Lemaricus Davidson and Vanessa Coleman following their apprehensions. Davidson and Coleman are charged in state court with capital murder, among other offenses, arising out of the carjacking and murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. Even if Davidson's and Coleman's statements regarding Daphne Sutton are true, they are absolutely inadmissible in a case against Ms. Sutton, and Davidson cannot be compelled to testify.
But who is Daphne Sutton? She is the white girlfriend it seems of Lemaricus Davidson and the reason it seems they won't file hate crime charges:
With regard to Ms. Sutton's visit to Chipman Street on January 7, 2007, the evidence known to the United States at this time indicates that Vanessa Coleman was guarding Channon Christian in the bathroom during the five minutes or so Ms. Sutton was there, and that Ms. Sutton had no idea Channon was in the house.
Further, statements of witnesses corroborate Ms. Sutton's statement that Davidson gave clothing and jewelry to her as "gifts" which he claimed to have purchased for her. The weight of the evidence suggests that Ms. Sutton, at that time, had no idea Davidson had carjacked and kidnapped Channon, or that the "gifts" were actually Channon's belongings. Ms. Sutton disclosed these events to law enforcement, and turned over the items to be used as evidence.
That isn't all, Daphne Sutton was supposed to be related to a Knoxville cop, so they failed to arrest her because of it according to Boyd. And it turns out the allegations were baseless. Here are the facts as related by public official in regards to Boyd:
...the United States will clarify the circumstances surrounding defendant's apprehension on January 11, 2007. Defendant was stopped by a KPD patrol officer when defendant was on the way to get food to bring back to Davidson, who was still hiding in the vacant house the pair had broken into hours before.
When confronted by law enforcement agents, defendant realized he could no longer assist Davidson without directly sacrificing himself, so he disclosed Davidson's location.
Shortly thereafter, defendant was returned to Ridgebrook Apartments where he lived. Davidson was taken into custody within an hour. That same day, three other principal defendants were apprehended in Kentucky. Interviews of the Kentucky defendants following their arrests led to the need to interview the defendant in this case. The results of the Kentucky interviews were unknown to the agents when they returned defendant to Ridgebrook. Defendant was charged on the basis of his conduct and on nothing else.
This sounds to me like a jurisdictional issue and state charges could be forthcoming against Sutton and several others that knew these thugs and that something was going on. The press stated, "One thing was clear from Monday's testimony. While many people knew Davidson was hiding out in or around the Ridgebrook Apartments complex off Western Avenue, all would wind up refusing him help, save Boyd."
"I can't just leave him because he came to me," Boyd explained in his videotaped statement. Danielle Lightfoot testified that Boyd and Davidson, who she only knew as "Slim," showed up at her Ridgebrook apartment on the night of Jan. 9. She agreed to let them spend the night. Boyd called cousin Kevin Armstrong to drop by. Armstrong said Davidson was armed and he grew afraid he might himself become a carjacking victim.
He left and later refused Boyd's request over the telephone for a ride. The next day, Lightfoot, Boyd, Davidson and Lakeisha Greer were hanging out at Lightfoot's apartment when a noon newscast came on the television station they were watching. "Slim's brother and then Slim's pictures came up that they was wanted for questioning," Lightfoot said. "So I asked what the hell was going on. (Davidson) just acted like he didn't know what was going on."
She said she kicked them out later that night. Greer testified Boyd came to her apartment that night. "He asked me if I could help him get a ride somewhere," she said. "I told him I couldn't help him. (Boyd said) it was for someone else - Slim." Boyd stayed with Davidson overnight..."
My God, just how many people were in on this? Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jennings said,
"...evidence suggested Sutton could have been an accessory to murder for allowing Davidson to stay with her after she learned of the discovery of the body Newsom...She didn't know it was a carjacking when she heard about the body being found near the railroad tracks...We have to prove, to bring federal charges of accessory to carjacking, actual knowledge of the carjacking. We've proven that with regard to (Boyd), clearly, possibly, right after the crime itself..."
Boyd's Trial Continues
Boyd's attorney Lomonaco wanted the jury not to let the horrors Chris and Channon suffered taint their views of Boyd, but Jennings thought otherwise,
"In the early morning hours of January 7th, 2007, when Christopher Newsom was about to die and Channon Christian was about to endure one of the most hellacious days anyone could ever endure, that's when (Boyd) knew they were the victims of a violent carjacking. What did he do for the next three days? Kept his mouth shut and then did everything he could to help (Lemaricus) Davidson."
Lomonaco recalled a Leesa Greer to the stand. She testified earlier she saw Boyd taking food to the vacant house where Davison was hiding out and because she had a sexual relationship with Davidson. Lomonaco then accused her of taking food to Davidson instead of Boyd, something she denied. It seems the rats are ratting each other out.
Accused ringleader Davidson's girlfriend told "jurors this afternoon her now ex-beau claimed Channon Christian was forced to kill her boyfriend. "He told me Channon shot Christopher (Newsom) ... that they made her do it...Sutton, whose uncle is Knoxville Police Department Officer Dennis R. Bible, has not been charged, and Lomonaco has alleged she was spared prosecution, both because she is white and the remaining suspects black, and her uncle works for the lead investigative agency in the case.
Sutton admitted lying to police in the hours after Christian's body was found inside the Chipman Street house she had shared with Davidson. "We were scared," Sutton said of her and two girlfriends she was staying with at the time. "We didn't know what to do ... I had just found out he (Davidson) had killed somebody." There has never been an indication in any court records or hearings that authorities believe Christian was forced to shoot Newsom.
Ref. Jamie Satterfield, Knoxville New Sentinel April 11, 2008
Phil Lomonaco (Boyd's attorney) demanded a mistrial claiming the prosecutors had unfairly prejudiced jurors by trying to implicate Boyd
in the fatal carjacking he wasn't charged with. "What I hear is (Lomonaco) doesn't like what's coming in (as evidence...The United States did not create the facts in this case. They are what they are. I have not heard Mr. Lomonaco argue these facts are not relevant."
Judge Varlan denied Lomonaco's request. Lomonaco contended Sutton "is just as guilty as Boyd is alleged to be in hiding a killer...she escaped prosecution because she, unlike Boyd, Davidson and three others implicated in the slayings, is white and the niece of Knoxville Police Department Officer Dennis R. Bible. Ref. Jamie Satterfield, Knoxville News Sentinel April 12, 2008.
My view of Sutton was expressed by other bloggers:
As far as this Sutton goes, I do not believe or trust her. She slept with Davidson knowing he was a carjacker, did she not? If it turns out she willingly impeded police from finding him then she deserves to go down with the rest of them.
As for race relations:
What a complete and total piece of trash Sutton is. Let's hope she does not raise her baby like the murderous thug piece of s--- Davidson is. Also,as far as any race relations improving in Knoxville, down the crapper that goes.
You might as well build a tall fence around the Chipman street area so that maybe the thugs will kill their selves off. This comment is not up for debate, don't have time for that. Just my opinion.
According to reports, Jenkins is black. But another blogger put it best:
I think we can all agree that Ms. Sutton is a "lowlife" with few, if any, redeeming qualities. I think that we can also agree that Federal Prosecutors believe that Sutton is tangentially guilty of accessory after the fact.
However, in my opinion, the fact that Sutton is white and her uncle is a police officer had nothing to do with the prosecutor's decision to grant her immunity. The judge concurred. Prosecuting Boyd without Sutton's testimony would have been very difficult. In the final analysis her immunity served the greater good of justice.
To quote Jamie Satterfield, May 18, 2008:
It was a trial in which federal prosecutors David Jennings and Tracy Stone made a bold claim: Boyd, implicated by the four suspects charged in the January 2007 slayings but not charged in those crimes, might well have been involved in both the carjacking and the killings.
It was that testimony to which Gary Christian gave nod in his promise to push for further prosecution of Boyd, who faces an Aug. 12 sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan on convictions served up Wednesday after an eight-day trial. He faces a maximum 22 years in prison on the two convictions.
Boyd, 35, via defense attorney Phil Lomonaco, denies any role in the carjacking or the slayings. He insisted at trial that he also was not guilty of being an accessory to carjacking or hiding slaying suspect Lemaricus "Slim" Davidson's whereabouts, claims a jury of 10 women and two men rejected Wednesday. The trial offered the first glimpse at what has been a case cloaked in secrecy, revealing for the first time the execution of Newsom and the savage sexual attack of Christian.
Davidson, brother Letalvis "Rome" Cobbins, Vanessa Coleman and George "Detroit" Thomas are charged in Knox County Criminal Court with the slayings. All four face the death penalty if convicted. Carjacking and any related crimes are federal offenses. That's why Boyd, already a convicted armed robber, was tried federally. Murder is not a federal offense unless committed on federal property or involving a government agent. The case has been marked by racial tension on both sides, with some decrying the alleged attack on a white couple by black suspects a hate crime while Boyd insisted Davidson's white girlfriend escaped punishment for allegedly failing to turn in her paramour after she learned of his role in the slayings...
Anthony Boyd denounced the verdict, and Chris Newsom's father is quoted as saying, "One down, four to go." To their credit the prosecution has been very cautious in all of this, an explosive racial issue. I don't really believe race was involved in this crime, but if the races had been reversed it would be an endless feeding frenzy for the racist' left-wing press. This website will track this issue as events unfold.
- Channon Christian - Chris Newsom Murder Trials
- Federal Jury Convicts Former Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner
- Christian - Newsom Murder Trial - Defence Plays the Race Card
- Eric Boyd Found Guilty in Christian-Newsom Murders
- Letalvis Cobbins goes on Trial-Found Guilty
- Lemaricus Davidson Goes on Trial - Found Guilty
- How Bloggers are Taking on the Local Press
- Jurors reject new trials in Christian-Newsom murders