The trial of the first of four men charged with the torture, rape and murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, a young couple from Tennessee, has concluded.
The families of the victims will have to endure three more, but the first, of Letalvis Cobbins, resulted in a conviction and a sentence of life without parole. The relatives of the victims had hoped for the death penalty to be imposed, but sadly this was not the case.
First, here are some details of the harrowing crime, from Wikipedia:
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."
Christian's parents found her abandoned Toyota 4-Runner two 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 Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan 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. He was shot in the back of the head, the neck, and the back, and his body then set on fire.
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," possibly a broken chair leg, 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.
The people responsible:
- 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. He has also been charged with assaulting a correctional officer while incarcerated pending trial.
- 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.
- 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.
- Vanessa Coleman, 18, was arrested by the Lebanon Police Department 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.
I don't know what national coverage of this first trial has been like, but the local Knox News has been very informative.
Here are court videos in which the medical examiner explains just what these innocents endured before they died:
Unsurprisingly, particularly when one takes into account the unimaginable abuses and agonies they suffered,the parents of Channon and Christopher were hoping for the death penalty, and say they feel the jury has let their children down.
Here is the moment sentence was passed:
It would be nice if a trial could bring comfort and closure for the families of the victims, especially in a case such as this one; but with another three trials to sit through and at least one of these savages living off the taxpayer for the rest of his natural life, that doesn't seem likely.