Courtoom Updates On The Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom Trial

October 27, 2009 – 5:06pm
The jury has not gone home yet, but defense attorney Doug Trant tells 6 News it won’t be reaching a verdict tonight.

October 27, 2009 – 4:46pm
Judge Baumgartner says he will check with the jurors at around 5:30 to see if they wish to continue deliberating or break for the evening.

He’s now called for a recess until then.

October 27, 2009 – 4:39pm
The judge is now reviewing photos of the victims that the lawyers may use during the sentencing phase.

October 27, 2009 – 4:31pm
Judge Baumgartner asks Deena Christian to not make a reference to Chris and Channon as being victimized by defense tactics. They are clearly victims, the judge says, but she should not refer to trial tactics.

October 27, 2009 – 4:23pm
“She was a beautiful young woman with a beautiful soul,” Deena Christian says about her daughter. She stops to wipe away tear.

“Neither Channon nor Chris deserved what happened to them,” she says.

“Our kids are the victims. They should not have been put on trial here.”

“What she had to endure haunts me.”

“It breaks my heart to see the pain in Gary and Chase’s faces knowing there’s nothing I can do.”

October 27, 2009 – 4:22pm
This was the first time Chase took the stand to remember his sister. He was too emotional to speak at Letalvis Cobbins’ trial.

October 27, 2009 – 4:16pm
“We did everything together. She was truly my best friend,” Channon’s brother, Chase Christian, says.

“‘I love you Chaser,'” he says Channon told him. “Those were the last words I ever heard from my baby sister.”

October 27, 2009 – 4:13pm
The jurors have returned to the courtroom because they have a question. They say they’re struggling with the difference between aggravated rape and facillitation of rape.

Judge Baumgartner explains what the law says to distinguish the two.

“Look at the elements and then compare; and then make up your mind beyond a reasonable doubt,” he says.

October 27, 2009 – 4:09pm
Judge Baumgartner asks Mr. Newsom to take out of his statement anecdotes about weddings Chris was not able to attend and a Halls High School scholarship baseball game.

Also, although Mr. Newsom can say his son was never in serious trouble, he cannot name off the offenses that Davidson has been charged with.

“I just don’t want to venture too far beyond where the court says we can go,” the judge says.

October 27, 2009 – 4:06pm
Nearly the whole courtroom is crying

October 27, 2009 – 4:03pm
Davidson listens as the family members read their impact statements.

October 27, 2009 – 3:52pm
“I go up to his room from time to time, but (despite all the memories) to me the room is empty,” says Hugh Newsom, father of Chris.

Mr. Newsom says he taught his son, just as his father had taught him, to never speak ill of the dead.

“I know without a doubt, as he drew his last breath… that his concern was for Channon.”

October 27, 2009 – 3:48pm
“I mourn the loss of Chris and the life he’ll never live,” says Chris’s sister, Andrea Bowers.

October 27, 2009 – 3:38pm
The first person to give her victim impact statement is Mary Newsom, Chris’ mother. She tells of how proud she was of him. “I knew what kind of kid he really was.” “I have many sleepless nights,” she adds.

October 27, 2009 – 3:26pm
As the jury continues its deliberations, family members will be reading their impact statements soon. It’s a dry run in the event that the jury finds Davidson guilty and the case moves to a sentencing phase.

We’re expecting they will start at around 3:30.

October 27, 2009 – 12:22pm
The families are scheduled to read their impact statements to the judge today at 3:30. This is a sort of rehearsal for the sentencing phase in the event that Davidson should be found guilty.

October 27, 2009 – 12:16pm
Judge Baumgartner show the jury how to use the charge to determine guilt or innocence on each indictment.

He then sends the jury to lunch. He tells jurors he doesn’t want them to begin deliberations until after they’ve eaten lunch.

October 27, 2009 – 12:08pm
“Each of you must decide the case for yourself,” the judge tells jurors.

“You must render your verdict with absolute fairness and impartiality.”

October 27, 2009 – 11:53am
The judge says the burden of proof is on the state and its proof must be beyond reasonable doubt.

He defines reasonable doubt, telling the jury that “absolute proof is not required, but moral certainty is.”

October 27, 2009 – 11:40am
The jury is back. Judge Baumgartner says three pages have been inserted into the instructions being given to the jury.

This is being done because, when there is a reference to more than one sexual assault, the state is required to select just one for the charge.

“Of course it’s up to you to decide if any assault has occurred beyond a reasonable doubt,” he adds.

October 27, 2009 – 11:31am
The closing arguments have concluded. The judge is now working on some last minute changes to the jury’s instructions before he delivers them.

October 27, 2009 – 11:26am
“This is not a ‘Law and Order’ episode,” Price says. “This isn’t ‘CSI.””

“You have to put it all together. This is real life.”

Price tells the jury that the only two people who can really tell what happened aren’t here. “Mr. Davidson made sure of that,” he says.

October 27, 2009 – 11:24am
About Davidson’s interrogation with police, Price asks, “What does a good liar do?”

“He mixes in a little bit of the truth,” he answers.

“Sort out the truth from the lies,” he tells the jury.

October 27, 2009 – 11:21am
Price shows the jury the two revolvers introduced as evidence. He asks which gun is capable of firing “pop! pop! pop!” in rapid succession. It’s Davidson’s gun, he says.

October 27, 2009 – 11:17am
Price calls the stories told by defense witnesses Freeman and Bradley as “crazy” and “absurd.”

He reminds Bradley told jurors he saw Christian with Davidson in Stacy Lawson’s Grand Am, but that weekend she was already in Kentucky.

“Another rabbit hole,” Price calls the story.

October 27, 2009 – 11:15am
By Sunday night, Price asks, what did they have?

He describes Newsom and Christian, brutalized and murdered. “They had lost everything.”

October 27, 2009 – 11:12am
Price asks what the victims had on Saturday night. They had jobs and bright future, he says.

And what did Davidson have that night? He had no job, no ride, no girlfriend. Lynn Freeman was hounding him for money. The rent man was hounding him for money.

“He had nothing, except a gun.”

October 27, 2009 – 11:05am
Leland Price begins with the state’s rebuttal. He thanks the jury for serving. “It’s a tough case,” he says.

Price reminds the jury of Daphne Sutton’s testimony. She tried to retrieve some of her items, “and who was it that stopped her?” he asks.

He emphasizes Davidson’s reaction. “This is my house!”

October 27, 2009 – 11:00am
Eldridge continues his closing argument. He talks about certainty of guilt. An absolute certainty is not required, but a moral certainty will be, “so you can rest easy at night.”

October 27, 2009 – 10:40am
The judge calls for a 10 minute break.

October 27, 2009 – 10:33am
Eldridge continues to point all of the evidence to the “gang from Kentucky.” They killed Newsom 100 yards from Davidson’s house. They left a body in his house. They fled the state.

Eldridge reminds the jurors Davidson left his identification in his house. He claims Davidson only lied during his interrogation out of his fear of police.

October 27, 2009 – 10:19am
“There’s no evidence that Davidson killed Christian,” Eldridge says.

About the defendant’s palm prints being found on the garbage bags, he says, “It’s his house!”

“Prints would be on your garbage bags at home, folks.”

Eldridge also works to poke holes in the medical examiner’s time of death. He tries to show Davidson wasn’t in his house at that time.

October 27, 2009 – 10:11am
About the “gang from Kentucky,” Eldridge tells the jury that Cobbins used bleach to his DNA. Coleman tried to hide Cobbins’ gun.

“Did she know he used it to kill Newsom?” he asks.

But Eldridge also reminds the jury that forensics experts could not put a fix on which gun fired the bullets found in Newsom.

He tells jurors they cannot convict Davidson on Newsom’s death based on possibilities.

“You don’t send somebody to life in prison or worse,” says Eldridge, “because a gun could’ve been used to kill Chris Newsom.”

October 27, 2009 – 10:08am
Gary Christian sits in the front row, rocking back and forth while twirling a small cross in his fingers.

October 27, 2009 – 10:02am
Eldridge turns his attention to Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman. He reminds the jury that Cobbins’ DNA was found on Christian.

Did the couple’s connection to Davidson put them tragically in contact with the “gang from Kentucky?” Eldridge asks.

October 27, 2009 – 9:56am
“We know that Mr. Davidson and Miss Christian had been seen together by Mr. Bradley,” Eldridge says.

“He’s absolutely certain,” Eldridge adds, while noting that Bradley didn’t want to be in the courtroom to testify. He discounts the prosecution’s observation that the car Bradley says he saw wasn’t in Knoxville at that time.

“Is it possible they were supposed to bring drugs to party?” Eldridge asks.

At that point, Christian’s friend, Kara Sowards, leaves the courtroom.

October 27, 2009 – 9:52am
Eldridge reminds the jury there was no proof offered that Christian was raped repeatedly or that she was killed before 2 a.m. Monday.

He calls these parts of the state’s “made up story.”

October 27, 2009 – 9:47am
Eldridge tries to poke holes in prosecution testimony by pointing to parts of the prosecution’s narrative that are not supported by evidence it presented.

One example cited by Eldridge is the testimony of Xavier Jenkins, who says he saw four black men in Christian’s SUV. Later, the state says Newsom may have been bound in the back, but there’s no evidence of that.

These are stories, Eldridge tells the jury, not proof.

October 27, 2009 – 9:45am
“The absence of clarity is reasonable doubt,” Eldridge says.

October 27, 2009 – 9:40am
David Eldridge begins the defense’s closing argument by quoting John Adams. “Facts are stubborn things,” he says.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a case in which passions are high,” he continues.

Eldridge also tells the jury that there is nothing about the allegations of drug use the defense has made that makes the crimes any less horrible.

October 27, 2009 – 9:37am
Family members and friends wearing red today.

October 27, 2009 – 9:31am
The judge has entered the courtroom. He is explaining that a meeting with lawyers in his office was the cause of the long delay.

He says Fitzgerald argued that there was potentially more than one sexual assault. But the indictment defines specific acts, so there was discussion on how to frame that in the judge’s instructions to the jury.

October 27, 2009 – 9:16am
The Christian family is in red today, just as the Newsom family was yesterday.

Davidson’s ex-girlfriend testified he hated red. Is it a gang thing?

October 27, 2009 – 9:12am
We are still awaiting the judge to enter the courtroom.

The defense is scheduled to give its closing argument, then the state will be given time for a rebuttal.

After that, Judge Baumgartner will give the jury its final instructions and it will begin deliberations on a verdict.

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