Transcripts from interrogations with double murder suspect Letalvis Cobbins map out a web of contradictions and confusion. However, Cobbins eventually tells investigators he witnessed the carjacking of a young couple and got a good look at the female victim.
Investigators say Channon Christian and Chris Newsom were carjacked at the Washington Ridge Apartments sometime after midnight Sunday January 7, 2007. The couple was killed later that day.
Newsom's body was found shot and burned near railroad tracks not far from 2316 Chipman Street where Christian's body was found stuffed in a trash can two days later.
Letalvis Cobbins is one of four defendants charged with carjacking, raping and killing Christian and Newsom.
Cobbins, his half brother Lemaricus Davidson, Cobbins' girlfriend Vanessa Coleman and long time friend George Thomas are facing the death penalty for the crimes.
During three separate interviews Cobbins tells investigators with the Knox County Sheriff's Office and Knoxville Police Department that his brother, Davidson, was talking about getting some money.
Former Sheriff Tim Hutchison, current KCSO Sheriff J.J. Jones and Detective Nevil Norman spoke to Cobbins first on January 11, 2007 after he was arrested in Lebanon, Kentucky.
In the first interview with KCSO investigators, Cobbins denies knowing where a "white" SUV or truck came from.
Investigators say Christian and Newsom were in her silver SUV when they were carjacked at the Washington Ridge Apartments.
Throughout the interviews, Cobbins shows confusion on the timeline, unsure of what day he witnessed certain events.
"I went back over there I went back other there, I think it was Saturday morning went back over there Saturday morning Saturday or Sunday morning I went back over there or whatever you know what I mean and my brother came out the house or whatever me and G (George Thomas) walk up what you doing what's going on who's truck... he like that's my friend's truck y'all wanna ride or whatever," Cobbins told KCSO investigators in his first interview.
Cobbins told interviewers his brother used the vehicle to give them a ride to a friend's house who he repeatedly calls "Vince".
Cobbins also repeatedly denies seeing Daphne Sutton at the Chipman Street house that Sunday. Sutton is Davidon's ex-girlfriend who testifed against Eric Boyd in a federal trial in April 2008. Boyd was convicted for helping Davidson hide from police after the murders. Police have not charged Boyd with the carjackings or the murders of Christian or Newsom.
However, Cobbins did identify Boyd as one of the carjackers. During his second interview with KCSO, Cobbins said he witnessed Davidson and his friend carjack the couple. Cobbins said he didn't know his brother's friend's name, but later identified him as "E", a short bald light skinned man.
"They was uh kissing in the car or whatever in the SUV so run up on uh my brother run up on the driver side "E" climbed up on the passenger side and I'm sitting in the car they forced them in the car whatever you know what I mean then I trailed them back to the house, " Cobbins told KCSO investigators.
By the time Cobbins gives his third interview, he is giving more details.
"So we pull in the apartments. We drive and we park... back into the parking spot. Two... a couple... a few seconds later... um.. they jump out of the car and run to a white SUV and... um... there was two people... a man and a woman at the SUV. They jump in pointing guns at them and... and um... they carjacked them I guess. I guess you call it and... um.. so we... we left. He had told me to follow him," Cobbins told Knoxville Police.
Cobbins told Investigators Todd Childress and Steve Still he, his girlfriend and Thomas who he calls "G" came to Knoxville to celebrate New Year's with his brother, Davidson. Cobbins said he had not seen Davidson much because he had been in and out of jail since Cobbins was 13 years old. Cobbins says he and his friends traveled from Kentucky to Knoxville on December 28th.
Cobbins told all the investigators he and his brother got into arguments before and after the carjacking.
Cobbins described getting back to the Chipman Street house after the carjacking.
"We... I ain't... I... look, I ain't down will all this." Cobbins said he told "G". "So I... um... my brother comes in the house with the girl. Well all four of them came in the house at first and then my brother's friend and the dude they left and went back to the car. Went back to the SUV and they left." Cobbins said to KPD investigators.
Cobbins repeatedly describes Christian as the girl or white girl throughout his interview. He identifies her through a picture showed to him by officers. Cobbins describes Newsom as dude or white man.
KPD Investigators retrace the carjacking with Cobbins.
"Alright... my brother... my brother pushes her over... my brother pushes her over and gets in the driver seat. But before he gets in he made the dude get in the backseat. And so I guess "E" got in the backseat with him on that side," Cobbins said.
Cobbins said he drove Boyd's white car back to the Chipman Street house.
"Now you said he (Davidson) took her in her... in his bedroom? Where did he put her?" Still asked.
"I didn't go in. I just seen... I just seen them both go in the room," Cobbins replied.
Cobbins said he could hear Christian crying. He later told KPD and KCSO investigators, he saw Christian without her blindfold with her hands behind her back.
"And you saw her in the living room sitting in a chair though? What was she saying then?" Still asked.
"She was just sitting there looking scared like," Cobbins said.
Cobbins later told officers Davidson was in the living room watching Christian.
Officers started applying pressure.
"So there would be absolutely no reason we would find your DNA on that girl?" Still asked Cobbins.
"I gave her some water. That was it," Cobbins replied.
However, during Boyd's trial in April 2008, forensic experts testified Cobbins and Davidson's DNA were found on Christian's body, indicating a sexual assault.
"But you hadn't had any kind of sex with her or anything like that? What did you think when they ran over there with guns and carjacked them? What did you think to... or what did you think they were going to do?" Still continued.
"Carjack them," Cobbins answered.
"Did you think these two people's life was in danger?" Still asked.
"I did but I didn't. I was trying to give him (Davidson) the benefit of the doubt," Cobbins responded.
"Why... on the... after he left with them... why either on the way to the house on Chipman or after you left the house on Chipman did you not call police and tell them what was going on?" Still continued.
"I guess cause I was scared," Cobbins answered. "I was scared for me, the people that were with me. Cause all I was thinking if they was in that house... we'd been living there you know. Second of all...(unintelligible)... I didn't want to... I didn't want to snitch on my brother you know."
Cobbins indicated to all the investigators he was also scared to die for the crimes. At one point, during his interview with KCSO investigators, Cobbins begans crying and saying he believes in God. Cobbins and the other three defendants are facing the death penalty.
"Letalvis, how do I know what you are telling me now is the complete truth? How do I know that?" Still asked.
"Cause I'm scared for my life. And I know... I seen on the news that... uh... well uh... these folks were some rich white folks and... they should hold the death penalty. Don't it?" Cobbins responded.
"I didn't touch that girl," Cobbins continued.
"And you didn't see him (Davidson) do anything to her?" Still asked.
"All I seen him do was go into the room with her," Cobbins answered.
Cobbins told investigators Davidson was in the room with Christian for 30 minutes to an hour.
"Did you hear her screaming or anything?" Still asked.
"Weeping," Cobbins replied.
"She was saying, 'no, no don't do that. No don't do that," Cobbins added.
Cobbins told investigators both Christian and Newsom were brought in blindfolded with their hands tied. Cobbins also said he believed Boyd had a gun pushed up against Newsom's back as he walked him in and out of the house.
"What was he saying to the boy as he left the house?" Still asked.
"Nothing. Just guiding him cause he couldn't see so he was just guiding him. Like he was, 'step down, step down one'," Cobbins answered.
"So was he still blindfolded and hands tied behind his back?" Still asked.
"The dude was blindfolded the whole time I seen him," Cobbins replied.
Cobbins said he told his girlfriend, Vanessa Coleman, and his friend George Thomas to pack their stuff so they could leave because his brother, Davidson, was doing "crazy" things. Cobbins said their friend named "Vince" arranged for the group to ride with a woman up to Lebanon, Kentucky. Cobbins, Coleman and Thomas were arrested in Lebanon on January 11, 2007.
Judge Richard Baumgartner will rull on whether the taped interviews are admissable by February 27th.
Cobbins is expected to go to trial in July.http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=76477&provider=rss