Courtroom Updates From The Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom Trial

 Starts At The Bottom

October 26, 2009 – 4:51pm
The jury is dismissed.

October 26, 2009 – 4:49pm
The judge is considering putting the defense closing on hold. He checks with the jury and the consensus is to hear the defense’s closing argument tomorrow.

He acknowledges it would be tempting to deliberate on just what they’ve heard today, but he reminds them they need to wait until they hear the rest tomorrow.

October 26, 2009 – 4:40pm
Fitzgerald tells the jury the defense can say what they want about the couple. It doesn’t matter what the accusations are. They are made by people who don’t know them.

“It doesn’t matter what name you call me,” she says, “it matters what name I answer to.”

“It wasn’t a drug deal gone bad, but it doesn’t matter. The family knows better.”

“You can think they were dope doers. We don’t care. We just want justice.”

October 26, 2009 – 4:37pm
Fitzgerald uses Davidson’s own words against him. She plays his statement where he says, “I never seen them in my life. Never been in my house before.”

October 26, 2009 – 4:24pm
“What we have to do is prove the elements of these crimes beyond a reasonable doubt,” Fitzgerald tells the jury.

“There’s no way that with four defendants we’re going to tell you exactly what happened.” But, Fitzgerald adds, the state does not have to do that because of the criminal responsibility they bear.

If he has the intent to rob the couple, it doesn’t matter who killed them.

“We think our strongest proof is on premeditation,” she says. “We know they wanted him dead.”

October 26, 2009 – 4:17pm
Fitzgerald contends Davidson used Newsom’s cell phone 25 minutes after he’s shot to death.

October 26, 2009 – 4:14pm
As his parents listen, Fitzgerald describing what likely happened to Chris Newsom in the final moments of his life.

October 26, 2009 – 4:00pm
Fitzgerald points out several of the lies Davidson gave to police when they interviewed him following his arrest.

He said he never touched Christian, but his DNA was all over her.

Fitzgerald also reminds the jury that there are no records of phone calls between the victims and Davidson. She strikes down the defense theory that they were in the neighborhood to buy drugs.

October 26, 2009 – 3:53pm
Davidson calls several of Suttons friends on Sunday afternoon, still looking for her. Her friends call each other.

On Sunday evening, he talks to Sutton and she goes to Chipman Street. Davidson give Christian’s clothes to Sutton. She leaves. Then she calls him and he shows in a 4Runner.

Fitzgerald reminds the jury of Sutton’s statement that he stays with her Monday night. She says he was wearing Nike Shox shoes that were too small for him.

October 26, 2009 – 3:46pm
Fitzgerald reminds the jury that at 3:13 a.m. Davidson tries to track down his ex-girlfriend, Daphne Sutton.

Freeman calls Davidson on Sunday morning. “Slow down,” she says.

What was Davidson doing, Fitzgerald wonders?

In the meantime, from the cell phone records, Christian’s voice mail is checked. If she was able to use her phone, why didn’t she phone home? Why didn’t she phone Newsom?

Fitzgerald reminds the jury that Christian was dependable, responsible and loved her mother.

October 26, 2009 – 3:32pm
Fitzgerald spends some time to deconstruct and debunk the statements of the defense witnesses. She uses a timeline to show that at 9:02 p.m. Newsom called Christian. That refutes Freeman’s account of seeing the couple at an Exxon state between 9 and 10.

The couple was expected to arrive at a party at 10, but they don’t arrive.

Fitzgerald points out that a Waste Connections worker testified seeing her 4Runner around midnight on Chipman Street. He says he saw four black men in it.

October 26, 2009 – 3:21pm
Fitzgerald describes the condition of Chris Newsom’s body. He was Rape, then moved to the railroad tracks where he was shot three times and set on fire.

Floral fabric found on his body is the same as what was found in the Chipman Street house. He was shot by bullets consistent with the gun Davidson had.

Newsom’s ball caps were found in the house.

We know that Channon Christian was held in the house and raped multiple times. Davidson’s DNA was found on her. She was also brutally beaten.

Davidson’s DNA was also found on her clothing and hits prints were found on the garbage bags that wrapped her body.

October 26, 2009 – 3:15pm
Takisha Fitzgerald has begun the state’s closing argument.

“What happened to Chris and Channon? That’s what everyone wants to know,” she says as she begins to layout the state’s version of what happened.

October 26, 2009 – 3:03pm
Judge Baumgartner said he’s set no time limit on the lawyers for their closing arguments. The best guess is both sides will take an hour. If so, then the jury likely won’t begin deliberating until tomorrow.

The Cobbins jury spent 6-7 hours deliberating over two days. Davidson faces about the same number of charges as Cobbins did.

Davidson listens as Judge Baumgartner reads the charges against him.

October 26, 2009 – 2:51pm
After an hour of reading the charge, the judge has finished. He’s called for a break before the closing arguments begin.

October 26, 2009 – 2:21pm
The courtroom is nearly filled as the judge reads the charge against Davidson

October 26, 2009 – 2:05pm
The verdict form the jurors will use once they’ve decided on verdicts can be found here. :…usDavidson.pdf

It is 41 pages long.

October 26, 2009 – 1:58pm
There are 12 distinct offenses listed in the charge, covering among them first degree, felony, and premeditated murder, aggravated robbery, theft, aggravated rape, and kidnapping.

October 26, 2009 – 1:43pm
The judge is explaining procedures, the law and the charges against Davidson to the jury. The charge is lengthy, nearly 100 pages long. He warns it will take him some time to go through it.

October 26, 2009 – 1:42pm
Judge Baumgartner reminds the audience that they are not to react to what’s said.

October 26, 2009 – 1:38pm
There was a long line outside the courtroom of spectators waiting to come in for closing arguments.

October 26, 2009 – 1:36pm
Court is back in session.

October 26, 2009 – 12:52pm
The jury in this case will have a mountain of information to wade through. The jury form is 95 pages. The verdict form is around 20 pages.

October 26, 2009 – 11:54am
Judge Baumgartner says the jury will be given the case today, but won’t be able to begin deliberating until tomorrow morning. Closing arguments begin this afternoon at 1:30.

October 26, 2009 – 11:33am
The state rests.

Judge Baumgartner sends the jury to lunch. He says he will take up additional matters with the attorneys before they give their closing arguments.

October 26, 2009 – 11:28am
Kimberly Elkins is brought in to testify about Newsom’s bank account at TVA Federal Credit Union. Elkins is a fraud examiner there. She says Newsom withdrew $100 on the night of the abduction and he had more than a $900 balance. The defense asks Elkins that there is no way for her to know if marijuana or amphetamines were bought with the money. She says no.

Another bank official, Barbara Thomas, with First Tennessee, says records show Christian spent $5.05 at Walgreens on Jan 6. 2007 and had more than $200 available in her account.

October 26, 2009 – 11:20am
The state calls Shara Johnson, an employee with Select Specialty Hospitals, to testify about Channon Christian. She was Christian’s employment supervisor and is asked about drug testing at the hospital.

Johnson says Christian’s test was negative except for oxycodone. The defense then objects to questioning related to a car wreck, so Johnson is dismissed.

October 26, 2009 – 11:10am
The first rebuttal witness called by the state is Josh Shafer, a drug crimes investigator with the Knoxville Police Department. Takisha Fitzgerald asks Shaffer about where different types of drugs are sold in the Knoxville area.

He says pills are typically sold in north and and west of the UT campus. Crack cocaine is sold in East Knoxville. Marijuana is sold everywhere.

October 26, 2009 – 11:08am
The defense rests after introducing the record of Cobbins’ conviction in New York.

October 26, 2009 – 11:05am
The judge has allowed the defense motion to introduce Cobbins’ prior robbery conviction in New York.

October 26, 2009 – 10:59am
Judge Baumgartner asks Davidson if he wants to testify. Davidson answers that he agrees with his lawyer’s advice and has decided not to testify.

October 26, 2009 – 10:37am
The court is taking a break.

October 26, 2009 – 10:33am
Is STR any less accurate than YSTR testing, a juror asks?

Lewis says neither test is any less accurate. They just look at different evidence.

October 26, 2009 – 10:29am
Is it possible that the DNA profiles that were not identified came from skin cells, Leland Price asks?

Lewis says it’s possible.

Could the sample have been contaminated by the handling of the underwear?

“It’s possible,” she says.

He testimony was not on sperm DNA, just unknown male DNA.

October 26, 2009 – 10:15am
The independent lab did not do any tests to verify the presence of semen.

October 26, 2009 – 10:07am
Lewis says there was not evidence of Davidon’s DNA on the underwear using the YSTR profile testing used by the lab. There were unidentified contributors.

The tests on DNA taken from the rectal swab of Newsom also didn’t show Davidson’s DNA, she says.

October 26, 2009 – 10:02am
DNA analyst Kelli Lewis is now on the stand for the defense. She is testifying on tests performed on samples found on Channon Christian underwear.

October 26, 2009 – 9:46am
Defense attorney David Eldridge has asked Carlisle a lot of questions about how long drugs remain in the body. It seems the defense wishes to show that the victims could have taken drugs and have them not show up in toxicology tests.

In her cross examination, Takisha Fitzgerald asks Carlisle if being high on drugs would prevent feeling of pain from raped or shot.

Carlisle answers no.

October 26, 2009 – 9:44am
A source tells me Davidson will not testify in his own defense.

October 26, 2009 – 9:39am
The defense has called Melanie Carlisle, a TBI toxicology expert, to testify.

October 26, 2009 – 9:31am
The judge says his gut reaction is that the evidence does not apply, but he will not rule on the motion until later.

He also says the reluctant witness will not be testifying.

October 26, 2009 – 9:26am
Judge Baumgartner says Cobbins hasn’t testified in this case.

“I don’t understand what rule would permit the introduction of evidence of someone who is not a witness in this case,” the judge says.

He also points out that he excluded that evidence in Cobbins’ trial.

October 26, 2009 – 9:22am
The defense motions to introduce evidence that Davidson’s brother, Letalvis Cobbins, was convicted in New York on an armed robbery charge.

The state objects, saying there’s no relevance that prior bad acts show evidence other crimes have been committed.

October 26, 2009 – 9:21am
Court is in session. Day 7 in the Davidson trial begins.

October 26, 2009 – 9:12am
I’m hearing there is a change in the jury makeup. A female juror became ill yesterday. She’ll be replaced this morning by an alternate juror.

October 26, 2009 – 9:04am
Davidson has entered the courtroom.

Attorney Mike Whalen is also in the courtroom. He represents the reluctant witness.

October 26, 2009 – 8:55am
We don’t have any word yet on whether or not Davidson has decided to testify in his own defense. He will have to give his decision to Judge Baumgartner today.

Also, we expect to hear the judge’s decision on a motion regarding a reluctant defense witness.