izmir escort izmir escort antalya escort porno jigolo izmir escort bursa escort instagram hesap kapatma backlink satışı havalandırma sistemleri porno izle instagram takipçi satın al saha betonu leadersmm.com facebook sayfa beğeni satın al alsancak escort eskişehir escort bayan Lemaricus Davidson - Tennessee Death Row
Page 1 of 7 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 70

Thread: Lemaricus Davidson - Tennessee Death Row

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Lemaricus Davidson - Tennessee Death Row

    Summary of Offense:

    A Knox County jury sentenced Lemaricus Davidson to death for killing Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom in January 2007. A cheer went out over the courtroom when the first of four death penalty verdicts was read aloud by the jury foreman. Judge Richard Baumgartner quickly reprimanded court observers for the outburst, having previously warned that there should be no reaction whatsoever from the courtroom. In all, Davidson was handed four death sentences for the first-degree premeditated murder and first degree felony murder of Channon Christian, as well as the first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree felony murder of Christopher Newsom.

    Davidson was sentenced to death on October 30, 2009.

  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Judge's woes delay hearings in torture slayings

    Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner's medical and legal woes are delaying the next round of hearings in the January 2007 torture slayings of a young Knox County couple.

    Lawyers for Lemaricus Davidson and Letalvis Cobbins - one on death row and the other serving a life sentence for the rape, kidnapping and murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom - had been scheduled Friday to argue motions for new trials. Such motions must be heard before the case moves on to the state's appellate courts for review.

    Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood on Friday moved the motions to March 25.

    But the judge and attorneys indicated there's no guarantee the motions will be heard that day, either, given the uncertainty that surrounds Baumgartner's absence from the bench. He presided over both trials in 2009.

    Baumgartner remains on medical leave while under treatment for an illness that hasn't been revealed and while under review by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on accusations involving prescription drugs.

    Blackwood, who's filling in for Baumgartner, also set a trial date of Aug. 4 for Cobbins and Davidson on charges they robbed a Pizza Hut in Knoxville around the time of the couple's deaths.

    Christian, 21, and Newsom, 22, were on a date when authorities said Cobbins, Davidson and others carjacked them at gunpoint the night of Jan. 7, 2007. The couple was taken to a rented house on Chipman Street in East Knoxville, where they were raped, tortured and ultimately killed.

    Two others convicted in the case, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman, also will need new hearing dates for their respective motions for new trials. Baumgartner presided over Thomas' trial in 2009 and Coleman's in 2010.


  3. #3
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Conviction upheld of man accused of hiding Christian, Newsom killer

    Federal Appeals Court in Cincinnati has upheld the conviction of Eric Boyd for his role in the murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.

    In 2008, Boyd was sentenced to 18-years for hiding Lemarcus Davidson, who was on the run, following the fatal carjacking. Davidson and three others were convicted of 2007 slaying. Davidson is on death row for his role, while two others are serving life sentences.

    On Thursday, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed both his conviction and appeal.


  4. #4
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Probe, prosecution of Christian-Newsom slayings had hefty price tag

    "Nearly every unit of the department was utilized at some point in the investigation."

    One of Knoxville's most horrific crimes is likely to go down in the record books as one of the state's most expensive prosecution efforts.

    It is difficult to pin a price tag on the investigation of the January 2007 torture-slayings of Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23, and resulting prosecutions. Some figures - jury expenses, expert witnesses, defense bills, for example - are readily available, and they tally more than $1.1 million so far. Others, including the man-hours expended by teams of local, state and federal agents, are impossible to quantify but are sure to exceed the costs ever incurred in any other single investigation.

    As John Gill, special counsel to Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols, noted, there has never been a case in Tennessee like this one.

    "Not four defendants where the death penalty is sought (against each)," Gill said. "It is unprecedented."

    Lemaricus Davidson

    Calling the cavalry

    The crime was itself unprecedented: a young couple kidnapped by strangers, held captive, beaten, tortured, raped and killed. The scope of the probe was also extraordinary. Entire squads from both the Knoxville Police Department and Knox County Sheriff's Office were joined by teams of agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Marshals Service.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office set up a "war room," with three state prosecutors joining as many as a half-dozen federal prosecutors managing the effort first to find Christian after Newsom's body had been discovered, and, second, to hunt down their killers.

    "From the very start, you had an indication of people fleeing the state," Gill said. "The feds came in as a result, which is extraordinary (in a local murder case). You start out with horrific crimes and very little information. It was very confusing to have so many people out beating the bushes. But, at the same time, it was very helpful to have all that assistance."

    Federal and state judges were enlisted to issue search warrants. Cellular phone providers were called on to provide information for those search warrants.

    KPD employed its Special Operations Squad, and the Knoxville branch of the Marshals Service assigned its entire fugitive squad to take down accused ringleader Lemaricus Davidson, who was hiding in a vacant house in Mechanicsville, and his convicted helper, Eric Boyd.

    Eventually, the manhunt for the couple's killers led to Lebanon, Ky., where law enforcers from the Kentucky State Police, local police there and the Kentucky branch of the Marshals Service joined in. KPD, KCSO and the ATF sent agents there. Then-Sheriff Tim Hutchison employed his agency's helicopters in the Kentucky hunt for suspects Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman.

    All of that cost money - lots of it.

    But no one can say just how much.

    "Nobody quantifies (the law enforcement side of a case)," noted Susan Shipley, a Knoxville attorney who is a veteran of capital murder defense work.

    Law enforcers in this case say it is simply impossible to try.

    "There's no way," said Martha Dooley, KCSO spokeswoman for Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones, when presented with the News Sentinel's request for information on the office's work in the case.

    KPD spokesman Darrell DeBusk had a similar reaction.

    "Nearly every unit of the department was utilized at some point in the investigation," DeBusk said.

    Those included the agency's entire violent crimes section of the Criminal Investigation Division and its supervisors, its 15-member Forensics Unit and the Organized Crime Unit. There were teams of patrol officers from two patrol districts, a search and recovery team, and the Special Operations Squad, DeBusk said.

    KCSO also devoted teams of patrol deputies, detectives and forensics specialists to the initial manhunt, which spanned five days, and the ensuing follow-up probe, which spanned months.

    Crime laboratories of both the TBI and FBI processed 850 pieces of evidence gathered from eight crime scenes. The Knox County Medical Examiner's Office sent both its chief and an investigator to the Chipman Street house where the couple had been held captive.

    There were also plenty of suits involved, including Police Chief Sterling Owen IV, since retired, two KPD deputy chiefs, Hutchison, Jones and at least two of KCSO's chief deputies as well as public information officers from both agencies.

    The feds likewise can't quantify how much manpower was devoted to the first phase of what would be a three-year prosecution effort that's still not over.

    But if trial testimony is any indication, there easily could have been more than 100 law enforcers in two states involved in the initial effort to round up suspects and start building a case. And with annual salaries for those lawmen and women ranging from roughly $37,831 for a crime scene technician to $52,352 for a patrol sergeant, the cost of the law enforcement arm alone easily could be in the hundreds of thousands.

    And that was just the beginning.

    Launching the war

    Even the most mundane trial is expensive.

    Consider a 2009 Duke University study that estimated it costs $1,416 for one day in court with one judge, one clerk, one court reporter and two bailiffs. That figure, however, can't even offer a baseline for the prosecution effort in this case.

    As for the two-bailiff estimate, it was actually closer to four in the Knoxville cases. Court security? A half dozen inside court and more outside in the racially charged case of black defendants and white victims. In the state prosecution effort, even the judge had a security detail.

    "The sheriff's department had undercover deputies crawling the hallways looking for crackpots," Shipley said.

    So double that Duke estimate.

    In the murder cases, the entire court, complete with that massive security apparatus, was literally transported to Nashville twice and to Chattanooga once for jury selection in three of the four trials. Again, no one can offer up numbers, but there would have been hotel rooms, meals and transportation costs.

    "They were lucky to get anybody to handle this case at all. Everything they do or don't do is going to be scrutinized. There was so much public outrage the defense attorneys were taking a personal risk." Susan Shipley, Knoxville attorney

    The first person to be tried was Boyd, accused in a federal indictment of being an accessory to a fatal carjacking by hiding out Davidson after the killings.

    Boyd appeared in U.S. District Court before his April 2008 trial 13 times for various pre-trial hearings. Each time, the Marshals Service boosted its security three-fold. Jury selection spanned three days. His trial lasted five days, and a sixth day was afforded for sentencing. He is currently serving an 18-year prison term.

    So, if you used the Duke figure as a base and then doubled it for the extra security, merely opening the courtroom doors cost more than $60,000 over that span of time.

    The U.S. District Court clerk's office did not respond to a request for the cost of Boyd's defense. Attorney Phil Lomonaco, appointed to the case after Boyd fired court-appointed lawyer Richard Gaines, said he can't recall how much he billed.

    There is typically a $6,100 cap on defense fees in routine federal cases, but that cap was lifted in Boyd's case because of the sheer volume of evidence through which Lomonaco had to wade. He would have billed an average of $110 for every hour he spent on the case.

    He worked a lot, he said.

    "There were a lot of facts, a lot of evidence," he said. "We had to go through a ton of material."

    And until this week, he wasn't finished. An appeal had been pending in the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. A single trip to Cincinnati, where the federal appeals court is located, cost taxpayers more than $650, according to a travel voucher filed by one of Lomonaco's legal associates.

    The court shot down the appeal Thursday. Boyd still has one other, remote appeal option, but those are usually summarily dismissed with little additional paperwork.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office assigned two prosecutors to the case. One, a veteran, earns more than $100,000 a year, the other, then a relative newbie, a bit less. The office can't say exactly how many hours the pair devoted to the case. A third veteran, whose salary also topped $100,000, presented the case to a federal grand jury over a period of weeks.

    But Boyd's trial was merely a prelude to the main event.

    Pulling out the big guns

    Most killers in Tennessee work alone or in pairs.

    There are rare exceptions. In 1986, for instance, authorities in Gatlinburg charged four people in the slayings of Rocky Top Village Inn clerk Melissa Suttles Hill and security guard Troy Dale Valentine.

    But only two of the four were tried, with convicted mastermind Edward "Tattoo Eddie" Harris being sentenced to death. The remaining two took deals to testify against their co-horts.

    And that's the way it usually works, according to veteran capital defense attorney Jim Simmons of Nashville. Faced with a band of killers, prosecutors hone in on the most culpable when seeking death and use the less culpable to shore up a capital murder case against the ringleaders.

    But with an outraged public and an outspoken set of surviving relatives, Nichols opted to seek death against not only ringleader Davidson but also compadres Cobbins, Thomas and Coleman.

    "I think that was very unusual because typically they'll use the others to take on the most culpable one," Simmons said. "I have never tried (a capital case) with multi-defendants."

    With even one death penalty case, the cash register goes into overdrive. The Duke study estimated that a capital murder case costs some $329,000 more in court-related expenses than a noncapital murder case.

    Nichols' aide Gill acknowledged that prosecutors can and sometimes do weigh the extra costs of seeking death against the cheaper alternative of a life sentence.

    But dollar signs were nowhere to be found in the room when Nichols and his staff considered the unprecedented move of seeking the death penalty against all four accused in the Christian/Newsom case.

    "I don't think that was even a close (call) in the consideration of this case," he said.

    Gill argues that the decision did not carry an additional price tag for his office.

    "We would have spent the same money on personnel if that case had never occurred," he said.

    That's true - technically. In practice, however, it's not so clear.

    Assistant District Attorney General Leland Price set aside his regular caseload to do nothing but work on Christian-Newsom over a three-year period. That meant other staffers had to shoulder the cases he left behind. His partner in the case, prosecutor TaKisha Fitzgerald, kept her normal caseload but lengthened her days to do so.

    Figures put a state prosecutor's average annual salary at $60,000. So, factoring in just Price's time, the state invested a minimum of $180,000. That doesn't count Fitzgerald's work and the costs of support staff, including two victim-witness advocates.

    The Knox County Finance Department did provide an accounting of some witness expenses billed by the prosecution, totaling $22,488. An examination of court files provided more detail.

    Prosecutors paid $100 a pop to house at the Hilton each of five witnesses from Kentucky for each of the four murder trials, for instance.

    It cost nearly $2,000 to fly in and put up for the night a cellular phone provider from Kansas.

    There were bills for food and lodging for a variety of other witnesses as well as mileage and food expenses for deputies transporting the defendants from Kentucky.

    At the request of the News Sentinel, TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm calculated the cost of the agency's DNA testing on 200 samples sent to the lab at $64,260.

    "This cost does not include the time spent by our crime scene team or other disciplines who worked this case," Helm said.

    Gill acknowledged death penalty cases are much pricier. But in this case, he said, it was all money well spent.

    "We don't seek the death penalty unless there are very sound reasons to do so," Gill said. "But it is going to take more resources."

    Attorney Shipley pointed out that, unlike defense attorneys in a capital case, the DA's office has an entire crime laboratory at its disposal and needs no permission from state budget-crunchers to pursue expert testing and testimony.

    "Nobody puts limits on how much testing the prosecution gets to do," she said.

    Not so with the defense.

    Defending the indefensible

    While neither law enforcement nor the prosecution can or must put a public price tag on its work, court-appointed defense attorneys are required to do just that, so the spotlight often shines on defense bills in the wake of a high-profile case.

    Recall, for example, the public outrage over the money afforded defense experts and attorneys in the years-long prosecution of Knox County's only accused serial killer - Thomas Dee "Zoo Man" Huskey. So far, the Huskey defense tab tops $750,000.

    It's hard to compare the Huskey case to the Christian/Newsom case. The tab in Huskey's case covers expert expenses and attorneys fees for a capital murder trial that ended in a hung jury, four rape trials and appeals that ultimately led to the dismissal of the original murder charges.

    In the Christian-Newsom case, the defense bill, including the cost of expert witnesses and testing, for all four capital murder trials is so far at just more than $910,000.

    The tally, which includes attorneys fees, expert witnesses and forensic testing, breaks down this way:

    * Cobbins: $346,139

    * Davidson: $283,557

    * Thomas: $210,394

    * Coleman: $74,060

    Cobbins was the first to be tried and, therefore, his defense team shouldered responsibility for most of the early legal heavy-lifting, so his bill is highest.

    Coleman's parents initially funded her defense before running out of money, and lead attorney Ted Lavitt hasn't filed any vouchers for defense experts, so her bill is lowest.

    For the defense, there is no unfettered access to cash in a capital case. The state Administrative Office of the Courts must approve funding for all defense requests. There are limits on which experts they can use, what those experts can charge and from how far away they can travel to testify.

    "It has to be a person they approve of," Shipley said. "You have to get approval from the state before you can even hire that person. We spend a lot of time fighting with the state to get funding."

    A defendant facing death is entitled to two attorneys who must be veterans of criminal defense and, particularly, capital murder. After all, it isn't a client's freedom at stake but his or her life.

    In this case, there wasn't a defense attorney in town willing to step up to the plate.

    "These were horrible facts," said Simmons, who has defended some 25 capital murder cases in 20 years.

    "They were lucky to get anybody to handle this case at all," Shipley said. "Everything they do or don't do is going to be scrutinized. There was so much public outrage the defense attorneys were taking a personal risk."

    Judge Richard Baumgartner, who since has resigned after confessing unrelated official misconduct, pressed local attorneys qualified to handle death penalty cases into service. He tapped Kim Parton and Scott Green to represent Cobbins; Tom Dillard and Steve Johnson to represent Thomas; David Eldridge and Doug Trant to represent Davidson; and Russell Greene to assist Lavitt in Coleman's defense.

    None wanted to be interviewed on the impact the high-profile case - which generated death threats against them - had on his or her practice. They each issued brief statements reminding an outraged public that they were duty-bound to represent their clients once tapped by Baumgartner.

    But Simmons and Shipley know the price the attorneys of some of the state's most notorious defendants paid.

    "There's nobody making money off death penalty cases," Simmons said.

    Most defense attorneys of the caliber appointed in the Christian-Newsom case can earn $250 to $300 per hour in private practice. The state, instead, pays them $75 to $100 per hour in a capital case.

    "We can't bill for paralegals and support staff," Simmons said. "(The state rate) doesn't cover your overhead expenses."

    For a solo practitioner like Parton, taking on such a high-profile death case essentially shuts down her practice, said Simmons and Shipley, both of whom also operate on their own.

    "It prohibits you from taking other cases," Simmons said. "They are extremely time-consuming."

    "You have to front the expenses yourself," Shipley added. "This is a case where defense counsel had thousands of dollars in copying expenses alone. You have to finance that yourself."

    Attorneys in capital cases are required not only to mount a defense but also to assume a conviction and, therefore, prepare for sentencing even while readying for trial. It is in the sentencing stage that most expert witnesses are employed.

    One legal misstep by the defense could net a defendant a new trial later, upping the price tag even more, Shipley said.

    Then, there's the fallout from public opinion, which could keep new business away in the future.

    "Certainly, you don't get any thanks from the public," Simmons said. "If you lose one of these, they never go away. You start the appeals process and that goes on for 20 years. … I have never asked for a death penalty case. I got involved because a judge called me."

    Housing the troops

    Taxpayers didn't just shoulder the burden of the investigation, prosecution and defense. They also had to cough up big bucks to care for the ordinary citizens called upon to decide the suspects' fates.

    In Boyd's case, jury expenses were relatively cheap. Exact figures weren't provided by the U.S. District Court clerk's office, but jurors in federal court are paid $40 per day. Eighty were summoned for a three-day selection process, and 14, including two alternates, spent five days hearing and deciding the case. The likely jury cost, then, totaled roughly $12,400.

    Knox County did not get away so cheap. The state murder trials spanned two weeks each. In three of those trials, jurors were selected from Nashville and Chattanooga and had to be bused here. The 12 jurors and four alternates selected in each case were housed in area hotels, guarded by a "matron" and "two or three" court officers overnight each night, said Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey. For their troubles, jurors were paid $11 a day.

    The total price tag for paying, transporting, feeding, housing and entertaining jurors: $161,862.

    "It's very expensive, but it had to be done," McCroskey said. "These cases combined are probably the longest I can remember that we've had to sequester a jury."

    Lodging accounted for much of that tab. It cost between $20,000 and $25,000 to house each jury panel and its security minders at an area hotel for the duration of each trial. Meals also took a chunk of change. Lunch from the Lunchbox Restaurant for a single day could run as high as $200. Salsaritas? $225 for one meal. Rothchild Catering? $368. Copper Cellar? $333. Calhouns? $389. At three meals a day for a total of nearly 40 days, the food bill took the largest slice of the jury expense pie.

    Gentry Trailways billed the county $1,900 for a charter bus to take jurors from Nashville to Knoxville and back again. There were two such round trips. The cost to take jurors from Chattanooga to Knoxville and back again was slightly cheaper - $1,700.

    McCroskey said transportation costs could have been much higher had the county been forced to keep a charter bus available throughout the trial to ferry jurors to and from the courthouse, various outings and restaurants.

    But court security officer Dennis Bowman has a chauffeur's license and offered to drive jurors around in a KCSO bus normally used to transport inmates.

    "We got lucky," she said.

    The county also forked out thousands to entertain jurors. They went to the movies - $100 or more for each flick. They caught a Tennessee Smokies baseball game - $133 - and visited the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame - $34.

    "Would you want to sit all those weeks with nothing on your minds but those cases?" McCroskey said.

    The county paid to rent and stock a hospitality room at the hotel with snacks and games, she said.

    "I'd want that if I was on a jury like that," she said. "You think about being locked up that long. You feel like a prisoner yourself."

    McCroskey said the county will be able to bill the state to recoup some of that expense, although it is still taxpayers who ultimately foot the cost.

    Settling in for the siege

    The trials are over, but the price of justice in the Christian-Newsom case continues to climb.

    Cobbins and Thomas escaped death, with their respective juries sentencing them instead to life without parole. Coleman, deemed by her jury panel a facilitator only, was sentenced to 53 years. Davidson was the only one of the quartet to draw death.

    The court battles aren't over. Motions for new trial, filings required in all jury trials that end in conviction, are pending. Cobbins, Thomas and Coleman will each get a shot at a state court appeal. If they lose, the law allows them to essentially fire their trial attorneys, get new ones and launch another set of appeals.

    Davidson's death sentence guarantees him a slew of appeals in both state and federal court. Eventually, a team of state and federal lawyers will be assigned to try to save his life.

    All of those appellate fights will be funded by taxpayers.

    Shipley insisted that taxpayers can't well complain if they want killers to be put to death.

    "It's absolutely not cost-effective (compared with life without parole)," she said. "If people in the state of Tennessee want the death penalty, they're going to have to pay for it."


    "It's absolutely not cost-effective (compared with life without parole)," she said. "If people in the state of Tennessee want the death penalty, they're going to have to pay for it."
    Lynchings were cost effective, and certainly would been appropriate in this case!

  5. #5
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    June 9, 2011


    Judge delays new trial ruling for Letalvis Cobbins, who claims jail abuse

    KNOXVILLE - Letalvis Cobbins claimed today that jailers beat him up Sunday.

    In a surprise move, Cobbins asked to address Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood in Knox County Criminal Court during a hearing on his bid for a new trial in the January 2007 torture slayings of Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23.

    "As you can see my face is still swollen and bruised from the beating I received this Sunday," Cobbins said. "I am asking that something be done. I just wanted to put it on the record."

    His statement prompted Christian's mother, Deena Christian, to yell out, "Did you see my daughter's face?"

    Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones denied the claim when contacted after the hearing.

    "The truth is not in him," Jones said of Cobbins. "He is a lying murderer."

    Blackwood responded to Cobbins' complaint with this: "It is noted on the record. That will conclude these matters."

    Earlier, Blackwood delayed a ruling on Cobbins' motion for a new trial to give him time to look through law enforcement files on the probe of the judge who presided over his trial - Richard Baumgartner.

    Baumgartner has admitted buying and using hundreds of painkillers in the months following Cobbins' August 2009 trial. He resigned earlier this year after pleading guilty to official misconduct.

    Cobbins' defense attorney, Kim Parton, refused at the hearing's start to pursue Cobbins' claim Baumgartner was under the influence during Cobbins' trial.

    But Blackwood said it is an issue that will continue to "lurk" unless it is resolved.

    He is ordering the investigative file on Baumgartner to be turned over to not only Cobbins' attorney but the attorneys for the three other suspects.

    He instructed all attorneys to decide by September whether they believe there is evidence in the file that can and should be used to challenge Baumgartner's mental fitness at the time of each trial.

    Although Blackwood is delaying his ruling, he said his review of the case so far shows no legal error that would prompt a new trial.

    Cobbins is the first of four defendants convicted in the slayings to try to convince a judge he deserves a new trial.

    Cobbins was convicted of the slaying of Christian and facilitating the death of her boyfriend Newsom and a variety of underlying crimes including kidnapping, rape and robbery. He was sentenced to life without parole in the murder and another 100 years in the lesser convictions.

    Cobbins' co-defendants, brother Lemaricus Davidson, pal George Thomas and girlfriend Vanessa Coleman, each have separate hearings set later this year on their own respective motions for new trial. Davidson was sentenced to death as the ringleader. Thomas is serving life without parole. Coleman, acquitted in Newsom's death and labeled a facilitator only in Christian's slaying, is serving 53 years.


  6. #6
    Administrator Michael's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    If this was the work of another inmate am truly sorry that he couldnt finish his work. Hes one I would like to see in a prison full of members of the Aryan Brotherhood (or any other similar organization) and not enough guards.

    He deserves a lot of things, but never ever a new trial. He should be executed as soon as possible.

  7. #7
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Sealed TBI file proof enough for reversal of trials in fatal carjacking, attorney says

    A file the public is barred from seeing is so damning as to require automatic reversals of the convictions in one of Knoxville's most horrific crimes in recent times, an attorney argued Friday.

    Doug Trant told Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation file on former Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner presents "overwhelming" evidence the trials of four defendants in the January 2007 torture-slayings of a young couple were "structurally" flawed and must be overturned as a matter of law.

    Trant served as co-counsel for Lemaricus Davidson, the convicted ringleader in the carjacking and killing of Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23. Also in court Friday were attorneys for co-defendants Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman.

    All four are seeking new trials, in part, because of revelations Baumgartner was buying from a felon on probation in his court and using hundreds of prescription painkillers.

    The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation launched a probe of Baumgartner in late 2010 months after the last of the four trials in the Christian/Newsom case. That probe showed Baumgartner was using drugs bought from felon Christopher Gibson as early as November 2009.

    The TBI's file has been kept secret, so it's not clear if there are allegations the judge was abusing drugs before he was first introduced to Gibson in November 2009.

    The information in the TBI file that attorneys insist plainly shows the need for new trials also is secret.

    Although Blackwood has not cited a legal basis for the secrecy in any court document publicly available, he, so far, has ordered nearly every document filed in the case to be sealed since Baumgartner stepped down in March.

    So the public has no way to know whether Trant's argument has merit, whether the remaining defendants are adopting his argument or pursuing additional claims, such as alleged impairment by the judge while on the bench, or what state prosecutors Leland Price and TaKisha Fitzgerald have to say about the matters at issue.

    Even Trant's disclosure of Davidson's position was brief Friday, and it was made only in reference to a separate issue on whether Capital Case Attorney Susan Jones, who served as Baumgartner's legal adviser during the trials, can be forced to testify at upcoming hearings on the sealed motions for new trials.

    Trant said there was no need for Jones or anyone else to testify about Baumgartner's mental state and sobriety during the trials because the TBI file shows proof of what's known as "structural error."

    The U.S. Supreme Court has defined structural error as a defect affecting "the framework" within which the trial took place that "infects the entire trial process." Unlike a procedural or legal error, which merits reversal only if it could have impacted the outcome of the trial, a structural error requires automatic reversal, the nation's high court has ruled.

    Examples of structural error include the denial of a defendant the right to an attorney, a "biased" trial judge, racial discrimination in the selection of the grand jury, defective reasonable-doubt instructions and denial of a public trial. It's not clear under which category Trant contends this case falls.

    Blackwood said Friday's hearing was set to decide two major issues whether Jones can be forced to testify and whether prosecutors Price and Fitzgerald should be replaced by outside prosecutors. Because no records have been made public, it's not clear why the pair of local DAs or the Knox County office itself might be asked to step away. Blackwood said only that members of District Attorney General Randy Nichols' office had been interviewed as part of the TBI probe.

    As for Jones, prosecutor Price said he wanted her to testify about her interaction with the judge both in court and in chambers during the four trials.

    "She would be a key witness, an essential witness for us," he said.

    But Jones, through attorney Tom Scott, argued that her dealings with Baumgartner were protected by confidentiality rules often referred to as the attorney-client privilege, which keeps secret communications between an attorney and his or her client.

    "I'm informed by her that Judge Baumgartner would often refer to her as his attorney," Scott said.

    Blackwood said that while he wanted to protect "the sanctity of the inner sanctum of judicial chambers," he recognized the state's need for Jones' testimony.

    "We are here and we are dealing with this based on the finding there was misconduct on the part of this judge and that cannot be excused," he said.

    Blackwood said he would delay ruling to give the state time to put their proposed questions of Jones into writing for review and filed under seal.

    Davidson is on death row. Cobbins and Thomas are serving life sentences without parole. Coleman is serving a 53-year prison term. Baumgartner, who was placed on judicial diversion in March after pleading guilty to official misconduct, was disbarred this week by the state Supreme Court. If he obeys the terms of diversion, he will qualify for his state pension.


  8. #8
    Administrator Michael's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Im so sorry for the Christians and Newsomes. They have to go through a real nightmare. This is one of the worst crimes I can remember....

  9. #9
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Request by The Knoxville News Sentinel for records

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) A court filing by The Knoxville News Sentinel seeks to unseal records on a former judge who presided in a high-profile murder case and was later discovered to be abusing drugs.

    Four defendants were convicted, including one who received the death penalty, in the January 2007 torture slayings of Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23.

    The presiding judge, Richard Baumgartner, later resigned and pleaded guilty to official misconduct after an investigation showed he bought prescription painkillers from a probationer in his court.

    Attorneys for the murder defendants were given the sealed records and contend they show there should be new trials. A hearing is set Dec. 1.

    The newspaper in the Thursday filing said "to cloak this (information) in secrecy is an error of constitutional proportions."


  10. #10
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Judge will decide if there will be new trials in the Channon Christian, Chris Newsom murders

    All four defendants -- Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman -- are in the courtroom.

    Their attorneys are making their arguments, one by one, in front of Jon Kerry Blackwood.

    They are relying, at least partly, on the evidence contained in a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation file on former Judge Richard Baumgartner. The file has been kept secret from the public but contains information about his admitted addiction to prescription pain pills.

    Previous story:

    Thursday, a Knox County judge is expected to decide whether to grant new trials for the four people convicted in connection with the deaths of a Knox County couple.

    Channon Christian and Chris Newsom were kidnapped, tortured, raped and murdered in January 2007. Former Judge Richard Baumgartner presided over the trials for the suspects in the case.

    However, Baumgartner was disbarred in October after admitting to past drug abuse. Defense attorneys are hoping Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood will agree their clients deserve new trials.

    Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas, and Vanessa Coleman were all convicted in their deaths. Davidson received the death penalty. Cobbins and Thomas were sentenced to life in prison. Coleman received 53 years behind bars.

    A hearing is set for 9 a.m. on Thursday morning.


Page 1 of 7 123 ... LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts