Cobbins' attorney wants lethal injection taken off the table
Woven into a large pile of defense motions are quite a few new developments in the first of four high profile capital murder cases.
Letalvis Cobbins is scheduled to go to trial January 26, 2009. However, Judge Richard Baumgartner will have to rule on several motions before the trial even begins.
Cobbins is one of four suspects scheduled to go to trial in 2009. All the defendants are accused of raping, kidnapping and killing Channon Christian and Chris Newsom in January 2007.
Cobbins' defense attorney Kim Parton submitted several motions to Judge Baumgartner just in time for the October 10th deadline. The content includes asking for lethal injections to be declared unconstitutional and asking for DNA evidence to be tossed out.
Parton says Tennessee's law on lethal injection has been undefined since 2007 when Governor Phil Bredesen asked for the execution process to be studied.
A protocol committee later recommended Tennessee go to the one drug lethal injection protocol. However, the Tennessee Commissioner of Corrections rejected the recommendation.
Parton's motion says "Thus with an extensive record showing that Tennessee exhaustively evaluated it's lethal injection protocol, but then declined to enact recommended changes." She says this leaves "the door open for compelling Eighth Amendment challenges to Tennessee's lethal injection protocol."
She then asked the court to issue an order declaring Tennessee's lethal injection protocol unconstitutional.
In a separate motion, Parton moves to suppress the search of Lemaricus Davidson's residence on January 9, 2007 at 2316 Chipman Street.
Channon Christian's body was found inside the house rented by Davidson on January 9. Davidson is Cobbins' half brother and he is also charged with Christian's and Newsom's rapes and murders.
She says, "the original search warrant for the Davidson residence, during which search the body of Channon Christian was found, was made upon affidavit that was unsigned and unsworn." Parton goes on to explain in the motion that the search should be deemed illegal and all evidence found on Christian's body and in the Chipman street house should be suppressed.
However, copies of the search warrant and the affidavit in support of search warrant were signed by Judge Chuck Cerney on January 9, 2007.
Parton also filed a motion asking for her client's DNA results to be thrown out because his DNA was collected on March 13, 2008 and compared to evidence found on Christian's body and in the house.
The Johnia Berry DNA Collection Law went into effect on January 1, 2008.
In the motion to suppress search of Cobbins' person, Parton writes, "the DNA collection statute, which allows DNA samples to be taken from a person charged with certain felonies under T.C.A. section 40-35-321(e)(1), is inapplicable to this case, as the statute applies only to persons accused and arrested after January 1, 2008, and Mr. Cobbins was charged in 2007."
During Eric Boyd's federal trial in April, TBI Forensics Scientist Jennifer Millsaps said DNA evidence found on the items of clothing found in at 2316 Chipman Street, as well as on Christian's body implicated suspects Letalvis Cobbins and Lemaricus Davidson in sexual assaults on Christian before her death.
Boyd was sentenced to 18 years in prison for helping Davidson hide from police and not going to police with information about the carjacking.
Parton is also taking aim at statements made by Cobbins to police. She says her client was improperly subjected to custodial interrogation and his statements were involuntary. Cobbins' defense attorney wants the statements suppressed.
Cobbins will be the first to go to trial on January 26, 2009.
Vanessa Coleman is the only woman charged in connection to the couple's murders. She is scheduled to go to trial on April 13, 2009.
Davidson was set to go to trial on July 6, 2009.
George Thomas goes to trial August 10, 2009.
Police believe all four defendants were living at 2316 Chipman Street at the time of the murders.http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=67338&catid=2