Death Penalty: What Cobbins' jurors will consider
Wednesday morning, 12 Davidson County jurors will have Letalvis Cobbins' life in their hands as they consider the death penalty for his role in the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.
Tuesday, that same jury convicted Cobbins of first degree murder of Channon Christian in Knox County.
As they make the decision of whether or not the death penalty is appropriate for Cobbins' actions, those jurors will have some guidance set forth by Tennessee state code.
Wednesday, both prosecutors and the defense will state their case to the jury. It's unlikely any new evidence will be unveiled, but it is possible Cobbins could bring forward some character witnesses.
Essentially, the state has outlined aggravated and mitigating factors. If the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating, it's likely the death penalty will be suggested.
Examples of those factors in this case which may apply include the following from state law: "The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, in that it involved torture or serious physical abuse beyond that necessary to produce death."
Mitigating factors include Cobbins' relatively short criminal history. A few years back he was convicted of a robbery charge in New York.
"The defendant has no significant history of prior criminal activity," code states
No matter what the jury decides, both the Christians and Newsoms have made it clear they feel the death is not only appropriate but necessary for Cobbins.
"As long as they're breathing I'm going to hate them, that's a fact," Gary Christian, the father of Channon Christian said.
If the jury elects not to sentence Cobbins to death, he could receive life in prison with or without parole.
The following is taken directly from Tennessee state code:
(i) No death penalty or sentence of imprisonment for life without possibility of parole shall be imposed, except upon a unanimous finding that the state has proven beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of one (1) or more of the statutory aggravating circumstances, which are limited to the following:
(1) The murder was committed against a person less than twelve (12) years of age and the defendant was eighteen (18) years of age or older;
(2) The defendant was previously convicted of one (1) or more felonies, other than the present charge, whose statutory elements involve the use of violence to the person;
(3) The defendant knowingly created a great risk of death to two (2) or more persons, other than the victim murdered, during the act of murder;
(4) The defendant committed the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration, or employed another to commit the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration;
(5) The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, in that it involved torture or serious physical abuse beyond that necessary to produce death;
(6) The murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with, or preventing a lawful arrest or prosecution of the defendant or another;
(7) The murder was knowingly committed, solicited, directed, or aided by the defendant, while the defendant had a substantial role in committing or attempting to commit, or was fleeing after having a substantial role in committing or attempting to commit, any first degree murder, arson, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, kidnapping, aircraft piracy, or unlawful throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device or bomb;
The murder was committed by the defendant while the defendant was in lawful custody or in a place of lawful confinement or during the defendant's escape from lawful custody or from a place of lawful confinement;
(9) The murder was committed against any law enforcement officer, corrections official, corrections employee, probation and parole officer, emergency medical or rescue worker, emergency medical technician, paramedic or firefighter, who was engaged in the performance of official duties, and the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the victim was a law enforcement officer, corrections official, corrections employee, probation and parole officer, emergency medical or rescue worker, emergency medical technician, paramedic or firefighter engaged in the performance of official duties;
(10) The murder was committed against any present or former judge, district attorney general or state attorney general, assistant district attorney general or assistant state attorney general, due to or because of the exercise of the victim's official duty or status and the defendant knew that the victim occupied such office;
(11) The murder was committed against a national, state, or local popularly elected official, due to or because of the official's lawful duties or status, and the defendant knew that the victim was such an official;
(12) The defendant committed "mass murder," which is defined as the murder of three (3) or more persons, whether committed during a single criminal episode or at different times within a forty-eight-month period;
(13) The defendant knowingly mutilated the body of the victim after death;
(14) The victim of the murder was seventy (70) years of age or older; or the victim of the murder was particularly vulnerable due to a significant handicap or significant disability, whether mental or physical, and at the time of the murder the defendant knew or reasonably should have known of such handicap or disability; or
(15) The murder was committed in the course of an act of terrorism.
(j) In arriving at the punishment, the jury shall consider, pursuant to the provisions of this section, any mitigating circumstances, which shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) The defendant has no significant history of prior criminal activity;
(2) The murder was committed while the defendant was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance;
(3) The victim was a participant in the defendant's conduct or consented to the act;
(4) The murder was committed under circumstances that the defendant reasonably believed to provide a moral justification for the defendant's conduct;
(5) The defendant was an accomplice in the murder committed by another person and the defendant's participation was relatively minor;
(6) The defendant acted under extreme duress or under the substantial domination of another person;
(7) The youth or advanced age of the defendant at the time of the crime;
The capacity of the defendant to appreciate the wrongfulness of the defendant's conduct or to conform the defendant's conduct to the requirements of the law was substantially impaired as a result of mental disease or defect or intoxication, which was insufficient to establish a defense to the crime but which substantially affected the defendant's judgment; and
(9) Any other mitigating factor that is raised by the evidence produced by either the prosecution or defense, at either the guilt or sentencing hearing.http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=96982&provider=rss