Lemaricus Davidson Sentenced to Death in 2 2007 TN Murders

Started by Michael, March 24, 2009, 09:25:08 AM

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heidi salazar

Davidson jury not sworn in for a reason

A panel of 12 jurors and 6 alternates will spend the next two week preparing to sit in judgement of Lemaricus Davidson.

The state believes they have substantial evidence that Davidson was the ringleader in Channon Christian and Chris Newsom's murders.

Judge Richard Baumgartner has presided over several high profile and lengthy cases. An attorney familiar with those types of cases and Judge Baumgartner says he made a strategic decision that may avoid a jury selection re-do.

"The judge did not swear in this jury, so technically double jeopardy has not attached," Attorney Ann Short-Bowers said. "If something should go very, very wrong between now and two weeks, with jeopardy not attaching, the judge would not necessarily have to jettison the group that's already here."

Which means the judge could just add to the pool, instead of excusing the entire jury if there was a mishap among the panel.

One big concern is juror exposure to outside influences such as conversations about the case or news coverage.

Short-Bowers was apart of the Thomas "Zoo Man" Huskey case and she believes she has seen this before.

"Anytime you have a really high profile case and you have a lot of media attention and jury selection goes this long you increase the odds of stranger and stranger things happening with your jury pool," Short-Bowers said.

But the judge told jurors that there is nothing more serious than this, and their integrity in the case is a matter of life and death for Davidson.

Pressure on jurors is already mounting. One excused juror told the judge during questioning that she couldn't sleep or eat because she has been thinking about this case. Her stress could be contagious.

"Of course the other jurors were there when she was speaking and expressing herself," Short-Bowers said. "I think that's another good reason to have that comfort margin of additional alternate juror."

Davidson's jury is predominantly white while minorities were the majority the jury that sat in judgement for his brother and co-defendant Letalvis Cobbins.

"The fact that your locality has a certain percentage and that may turn out to be reflected in your jury pool normally is not going to be grounds for any kind of appeal," Short-Bowers said.

Jurors will report to an undisclosed hotel on sunday October 18th. They will have to forfeit their blackberries, cell phones and laptops.

The judge will excuse 3 alernates if there are no new developments within the panel.

Jury make-up

The pool of jurors and alternates picked for Lemaricus Davidson's murder trial is almost entirely white. Eleven of the 12 jurors are white; all 6 of the alternates are white.

His trial is set to begin October 19 for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Chris Newsom and Channon Christian.

The jury of 12 includes 7 white women, 4 white men, and 1 black man.

The alternates are three white men and three white women.

Previous: From 72 to 18; Davidson jury to be seated

28-year old Lemaricus Davidson is one step closer to facing a jury of his peers.

On Friday morning, 72 potential Knox County jurors will return to Criminal Court Division I to be evaluated by the defense and the prosecution.

The judge is looking for a panel of 12 fair and impartial jurors and 6 alternates. Judge Baumgartner explained that the unexpected 2 week delay has caused him to expand the panel from 3 alternates to 6. This will allow the judge more options if jurors do not obey his court order to avoid conversations about the case, and media coverage.

Davidson's defense attorneys and the prosecution will each get 15 challenges to disqualify jurors, with another 6 challenges for 6 alternates.

Before voir dire began Friday morning, Judge Richard Baumgartner announced that one potential juror is in the hospital getting tests. However, she wants to report for jury duty once she is discharged.

Another brought a doctor's note saying jury duty is not suggested. She was excused.

But it was the questioning of a young woman that took center stage. The potential juror denied during individual questioning that she joined a Facebook group titled "Pray for Channon Christian." However, the defense found that she is a member.

She told the judge when she got the summons, she removed herself from that group.

The fact she ever joined the group caused the judge to excuse her, while reminding her that she did not do anything wrong.

Another juror was excused because her nephew was recently killed in Iraq.

Before attorneys could challenge the first panel, an anxious juror was questioned by the judge.

The potential juror said she couldn't sleep last night and has not been able to eat. As she explained her anxiety, she said the case has already impacted her life.

The judge said he was not willing to endanger anyone's health and he reluctantly excused her.


heidi salazar

Davidson defense to introduce new DNA; motion to dismiss

The DNA from two unidentified men has apparently been discovered on Channon Christian's underwear.

Lemaricus Davidson's defense attorneys plan to submit DNA results from Bode Technology out of Virginia.

According to the motion filed on Thursday afternoon, Christian's boyfriend Chris Newsom and every defendant in the case were excluded as contributors to the DNA found on Christian's panties.

Eric Boyd, who was convicted as an accessory after the fact in the crimes for helping Davidson evade police, has also been ruled out by the Y-STR tests.

In a second motion, Davidson's attorneys want the case against Davidson dismissed after an alleged violation of attorney-client privilege.

The legal paperwork states that a letter written by Davidson to his attorneys was intercepted by law enforcement and given to the prosecution.

Attorneys Eldridge and Trant say the letter discloses important information about Davidson's actions relevant to his defense. "Accordingly, Mr. Davidson's defense has been compromised in an irrversible fashion, leaving no other acceptable remedy other than the dismissal of the indictment in this case," the motion concludes.

State's response to defense's DNA evidence

The state has also asked for the defense to turn over DNA raw data, reports, notes, and photographs connected to the case.

Assistant District Attorneys Leland Price and Takisha Fitzgerald are also asking the defense for all incident reports or documentatation about contamination or analyst error that could happen during testing.

Davidson's attorneys are currently having a pair of panties tested at a private lab in Virginia.

TBI DNA serologists found Channon Christian's DNA on the underwear along with an unidentified man's DNA. According to a report from Serologist Jennifer Milsaps, Christian's DNA overpowered the male DNA. TBI does not have the capability to separate the DNA to identify the male donor; a private lab is performing the analysis.

Death penalty comes up again

Last minute efforts to take the death penalty out of a highly anticipated double murder case have been launched by defense attorneys.

Lemaricus Davidson is set to go to trial for the January 2007 murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom on October 19.

Davidson's attorneys want the court to declare the death penalty for felony murder unconstitutional, saying it violates prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment.

Davidson is charged with felony murder, as well as the premeditated murders of Christian and Newsom.

The prosecution responded on Thursday by saying the United States Supreme Court has rejected that argument by saying that "major participation in the felony committed, combined with reckless indifference to human life" satisfies constitutional concerns in this area.

Domino effect continues

The two-week delay of Davidson's trial continues to have a ripple effect on the other cases.

Judge Richard Baumgartner and his staff will travel to Chattanooga on Tuesday to expand the jury pool for George Thomas' trial.

Thomas is Davidson's co-defendant in the murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.

The judge believes he has 122 potential jurors from the original jury pool. However, since Davidson's delay caused Thomas' trial to be pushed back by a month, Judge Baumgartner is concerned more potential jurors will not be available to serve on December 1.

Baumgartner's staff plans to hand out between 60 and 65 additonal jury questionnaires on Tuesday October 13th.

Jury selection for Thomas' trial will begin in Chattanooga on November 16.


heidi salazar

Personally, I don't think this murdering POS has anything to smile about, but it shows his true nature!

Davidson photo stirred readers' emotions

Photo by J. Miles Cary

Lemaricus Davidson, right, and his defense team of David M. Eldridge, center, and Doug Trant visit after Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner on Tuesday decided to delay Davidson's torture-slaying trial by one week to make way for new DNA testing.

It has been almost two weeks, and we're still getting criticism for running a photo of a Lemaricus Davidson grinning.

These complaints have not been mild:

* "The picture of a smiling Davidson and his attorneys on the front page was disgusting and in very poor taste."

* "Show some respect for the families of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom."

* "That was a glimpse into Hell!"

The reaction, in fact, is the most vehement we have had to a photograph since the 2004 image of the burned corpses of American contractors hanging from a bridge in Fallujah, Iraq.

The decision to publish that photo followed a protracted news-meeting debate. Although the photo was horrifying, we decided readers deserved to see the image because of the seriousness of the situation.

Perhaps mistakenly, the Davidson photo triggered much less discussion. We already had run dozens of courtroom shots from the case, and the picture, though capturing an unusual and telling moment, was just one part of our ongoing coverage.

Readers voiced a variety of objections to the Fallujah photo.

Some felt it was simply too grisly. It didn't pass the "Cheerios test," as we say when content is too raw to offer with breakfast.

Others were concerned about children. The young, parents said, should not have such a nightmarish image thrust upon them.

Still others felt the photograph was disrespectful of the dead, an unnecessary violation of their privacy heaped upon already unspeakable abuse.

A few also voiced concern for the families of the dead and asked how we would feel if those were our sons hanging from the bridge.

Some readers did support publication of the Fallujah photo.

They argued that Americans had a right and a duty to witness the grim reality of Iraq. They considered the photo to be within the tradition of American war photography, which has conveyed painful truths ranging from scenes of the Antietam battlefield to the image of a burned and naked Vietnamese girl running from napalm.

The truth, they felt, needs to be seen.

The objections to the Davidson photo were, perhaps, more complex.

On the face of it, the scene wasn't ghastly. Innocent children wouldn't have been frightened by the photo. The men weren't hideous in appearance.

In a way, it was the normalcy of the scene that was so upsetting. Set against the images in our own minds of the horror of Channon and Christopher's deaths, the levity at the defense table jarred.

Many readers directed their anger at the newspaper when they considered how the Newsom and Christian families would feel about seeing the photograph.

Here at the News Sentinel, we believe it is important to convey to the community the facts of this case, even the sadly painful ones. We are committed to documenting this important judicial process thoroughly.

But certainly we wish no harm to the Christians and Newsoms, who already experience far more horror in that courtroom than any of us can imagine and whose suffering is beyond all nightmares.

We have nothing but the deepest sympathy, compassion and prayers for them.


Granny B

Personally, I think the photo needed to be published.  It shows their state of mind and their disrespect for the murder victim.  Everyone needed to see it.
" Closure? Closure is a misused word in the English language.  There is no such thing as closure for the family of a murder victim.  There will never be any closure for the death of our loved ones until we are dead ourselves.  The families have a lifetime sentence of anguish and sadness." 
Susan Levy


The picture disturbs me too.

At least he can laugh as much as he wants - on trial, on the death row, .. The only thing I wish is a death sentence which will be carried out asap.

Im not sure if theres a hell, but I believe in executed murderers.


Torture-slaying trial, Day 3: TBI scientist testifies bleach-like chemical found on victim's clothing

KNOXVILLE - A Tennessee Bureau of Investigation forensic scientist this afternoon said he found what he believes was bleach on torture slaying victim Channon Christian's camisole.

TBI Agent Randall Nelson testified today that a stain on the semen covered camisole was consistent with the chemical properties of bleach.

The testimony tends to back up a statement by suspect Vanessa Coleman that her fellow co-defendants, including alleged ringleader Lemaricus Davidson, poured cleaning solution down Christian's throat in a bid to wash away DNA evidence of oral rape.

Davidson is standing trial this week in the January 2007 slayings of Christian and boyfriend Christopher Newsom.

But jurors won't hear Coleman's statement because appellate courts have ruled that one suspect's statement cannot be used against another suspect.

That means prosecutors Leland Price and Takisha Fitzgerald will have to figure out another way to show jurors the significance of his bleach finding.

Defense attorney David Eldridge elicited testimony from Nelson that he cannot say how long the bleach stain had been the camisole.

Christian was naked from the waist down when found stuffed inside a trash can in Davidson's Chipman street home but was wearing the camisole and a sweater.

Also today, cell phone records show that Christian was in the area of Chipman Street when she phoned her dad at 12:33 am after the couple went missing.

Fitzgerald has indicated Christian was already in the hands of her captors when the call was made.

However, defense attorneys Eldridge and Doug Trant contend that call supports their theory the couple went to Chipman Street in search of drugs.

Earlier today, segue back Davidson's former girlfriend took the witness stand against him.

Davidson showed no reaction as Daphne Sutton helped prosecutors try to paint him as a killer who coolly gave away his victim's clothing.

Sutton, the niece of a Knoxville policeman, told jurors she moved out of the couple's Chipman Street house after Davidson's co-defendants moved in.

She left, she testified, on Jan. 5, 2007. Two days later, Davidson called her.

"He told me he had some clothes for me and to come over," she said.

At the house, Davidson refused to allow her into the kitchen.

"He said, 'What are you doing? This is my house.' " she said.

He told her suspect Vanessa Coleman was in the bathroom, where the door was closed.

Authorities allege Christian was still being held in the house at the time.

Sutton said she later complained in a phone call to Davidson that the clothes were used.

"He said he bought them at Planet Exchange," she said.

When he came to her friend's apartment to retrieve the rejected clothing, she said he was in a Toyota 4Runner with stickers on the back identical to the stickers on Christian's SUV.

The clothing also has been identified as belonging to Christian.

Sutton also introduced the first overt reference to race in what has been a racially-charged case outside the courtroom.

That came when she was asked why she didn't like Eric Boyd, suspected in the slayings but so far only convicted as an accessory to carjacking.

"Lemaricus told me (Boyd) was Muslim and hated white people," said Sutton, who is white.

Davidson's lawyers are trying to attack felony murder charges by suggesting that Christian and Newsom were neither kidnapped nor robbed but went willingly to the Chipman Street house to buy drugs.

To that end today, Sutton testifed under cross-examination by defense attorney Doug Trant that she had seen Davidson "talking to a white woman in a Toyota 4Runner" sometime in December 2006.

But prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald elicited follow-up testimony in which she said that vehicle was an older model than Christian's SUV.

Im not sure if theres a hell, but I believe in executed murderers.


A few more...

Update: Cell phone records do not link victims to accused killer

Juror asks witnesses questions at torture-slaying trial

Editorial: Defense attorney should not have to endure threats

Christian-Newsom Murders: Judge Warns Family about Comments to Defense Lawyers

Victims' families: 'They're trying to trash our kids'

Im not sure if theres a hell, but I believe in executed murderers.


"However, defense attorneys Eldridge and Doug Trant contend that call supports their theory the couple went to Chipman Street in search of drugs."

So damn what!  What the hell does them being there to by drugs have to do with them being raped and murdered?  I'll tell you all what, NOTHING!! 

Another BS attempt to blame the victims for getting killed, "If they had not been there to buy drugs, then they would not have been killed."  What a crock of BS.  Davidson's lawyers should fry right along side of him.
"How come life in prison doesn't mean life? Until it does, we're not ready to do away with the death penalty. Stop thinking in terms of "punishment" for a minute and think in terms of safeguarding innocent people from incorrigible murderers."

JESSE VENTURA, I Ain't Got Time to Bleed


Davidson jury going home, deliberations to continue Wed

The jury in Lemaricus Davidson's double-murder trial ended the day Tuesday without a verdict.

Jurors deliberated Davidson's fate for about less than five hours Tuesday, but they say they need more time to get through the more than three dozen counts Davidson faces.

While they deliberated, Judge Richard Baumgartner heard just how much these crimes have affected the victims' families.

Accused killer Lemaricus Davidson's defenders have argued that the January 2007 carjacking, kidnapping, rape and murder of Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23, is "not simple and it' not clear."

Davidson's the accused ringleader in the killings.

"It would be simpler for all of us if it happened just the way we all thought that it did in the beginning," Defense attorney David Eldridge said during closing arguments.

Prosecutors have argued the couple was kidnapped, but in closing arguments Eldridge suggested the couple was searching for drugs near drug-dealer Davidson's house.

"That connection to Mr. Davidson, unfortunately and tragically put these two young people into contact with the gang from Kentucky."

The so-called "gang from Kentucky" is made up of Davidson's co-defendants: Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman.

Eldridge blamed them for killing the couple, not Davidson.

"Is he going to ensure all this goes down 100 yards from his house?" Eldridge asked. "Is he going to leave the body in his house?"

Prosecutors reminded jurors of testimony from Davidson's ex-girlfriend. She said Davidson blocked her from his kitchen where Christian's body was later found.

"What did he tell her? 'This is my house. this is my house,' " prosecutor Leland Price said during closing arguments. " 'You're not going any further. I don't want you to see what going on behind me.' "

As jurors deliberated, the judge approved what the Christian and Newsom families could tell the jury.

"Our lives will never be the same again because of a senseless crime was committed by people who have no regard for life," Christopher's mother, Mary Newsom, said.

"I said, 'I love you sis.' " Channon's brother Chase Christian said. "She said, 'I love you too, Chaser.' That was the last words she ever said to me."

Whether or not jurors hear the victim impact statements depends on their verdicts.

The Chrisitan and Newsom families will read those, if Davidson is convicted of first degree murder or first degree felony murder.

In those statements, the families again defended their kids.

Channon's mom said she her daughter didn't use drugs and she can prove it.

Judge Baumgartner told Christopher's father, Hugh Newsom, that he can't share two anecdotes about his son with jurors, because they did not directly involve the family, but rather how his death impacted friends.

Also, the judge told Channon's mother that she cannot attack defense tactics that, according to the victims' families, put Christian and Newsom themselves on trial in the case.

Jurors will start deliberating again Wednesday morning.



This POS is guilt as hell... he should be convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death asap.

Im not sure if theres a hell, but I believe in executed murderers.

Granny B

October 28, 2009, 02:18:14 PM Last Edit: October 28, 2009, 02:54:00 PM by Grandmother of Brandon
(I got this in an email today.  Don't know how much of the foregoing statement is true.)

The guys pictured below; car-jacked, then raped Christopher Newsom, cut off his penis, then set him on fire and fatally shot him several times while they forced his girlfriend, Channon Christian, to watch. An even more cruel fate awaited her!

Channon Christian was beaten and gang-raped in many ways for four days by all of them, while they took turns urinating on her. Then they cut off her breasts and put chemicals in her mouth.... and then murdered her.


Christopher Newsom and Channon Christian

Knoxville (WVLT) - The District Attorney General of Knox County announced the list of charges facing now five suspects in the double murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.


Lemaricus Davidson, 25 , faces a total of 46 charges.

Letalvis Cobbins, 24 , faces a total of 46 charges.

George Thom as, 24 , faces a total of 46 charges.

Vanessa Coleman, 18 , faces 40 Tennessee state charges.

Eric Boyd, 24 , also arrested in connection with the fatal car jacking, only faces federal charges as an accessory after the fact.

" Closure? Closure is a misused word in the English language.  There is no such thing as closure for the family of a murder victim.  There will never be any closure for the death of our loved ones until we are dead ourselves.  The families have a lifetime sentence of anguish and sadness." 
Susan Levy

heidi salazar

Knoxville torture slaying ringleader faces death penalty

KNOXVILLE -- The man accused of being the ringleader of a carjacking that turned into the rapes and murders of a Tennessee couple was convicted Wednesday of the most serious charges and now faces the death penalty.

The jury, which deliberated a little more than 8 hours before returning the verdict against Lemaricus Davidson, 28, will begin hearing evidence Wednesday on whether to sentence him to death.

Davidson was tried on 38 counts, including premeditated murder, felony murder, robbery, kidnapping, rape and theft in the 2007 deaths of University of Tennessee student Channon Christian, 21, and her boyfriend Christopher Newsom, 23.

The only not guilty findings were on three counts relating to the rape of Newsom, and Davidson was found guilty of the lesser crime of facilitation on those counts.

Davidson showed no emotion as he heard the jury's verdict. Newsom's family followed the readings closely but showed little reaction, while Christian's father rocked back and forth and occasionally pumped his fist as guilty verdicts were announced.

Prosecutors contended Davidson was the ringleader in the attack. The defense portrayed him as a drug dealer and bystander to the crimes but not the killer.

The prosecution presented six days of testimony that linked Davidson to the crime through DNA evidence from semen on Christian's body and fingerprints in her vehicle, on her paycheck stub and on the trash bag where her body was found.

Jurors saw a videotape of police questioning Davidson in which he blamed the murders on others. "Selling dope, that's what I do. I don't kill people."

Christian and Newsom were carjacked by several gun-wielding men during a Saturday night date as they left a friend's apartment. They were taken to Davidson's rental house, beaten, raped and killed over several hours.

A few days later, his naked, bound and shot body was found partially burned along some railroad tracks. Hers was found hog-tied and stuffed in a trash can in Davidson's house. She suffocated in the trash can.

Davidson, who moved to Knoxville after serving a prison sentence for carjacking in western Tennessee, was arrested within days in an abandoned house 10 minutes from the crime scene. Police found Newsom's silver athletic shoes in the house and a .22-caliber pistol.

The bullets were the same type that killed Newsom with an execution-style shot to the head, but forensic experts cannot say the pistol was the murder weapon, Eldridge said.

Davidson's brother Letalvis Cobbins was convicted in August of murder and related counts and sentenced to life in prison without parole. He testified during his trial that he participated in the carjacking and raped Christian but claimed he was going along with the crime out of fear of Davidson.

Another conspirator, Eric Boyd, was convicted in federal court of being an accessory after the fact and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Two others, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman, of Lebanon, Ky., are awaiting trial in state court on murder and related counts.



Many thanks for posting this news when I was asleep Heidi!  It would have been a great pleasure for me to post this verdict on my own.  :-*  ;)

After the first two sentences related to these murders Im happy that this POS has a great chance to get the DP. Any other sentence would be a shame.

Im not sure if theres a hell, but I believe in executed murderers.

heidi salazar

Many thanks for posting this news when I was asleep Heidi!  It would have been a great pleasure for me to post this verdict on my own.  :-*  ;)

After the first two sentences related to these murders Im happy that this POS has a great chance to get the DP. Any other sentence would be a shame.


:-* I couldn't help myself. After all the anti news I was stoked about the guilty verdict.


Not all of them got the DP though , a couple of them pleaded out if im not mistaken. which is just horrible. they all should have gotten the dp
Justice is not about bringing back the dead. It is not about revenge either. Justice is about enforcing consequences for one's own actions to endorse personal responsibility. We cannot expect anyone to take responsibility for their own actions if these consequences are not enforced in full.

heidi salazar

October 29, 2009, 09:35:39 PM Last Edit: October 30, 2009, 06:28:33 AM by Heidi
Torture-slaying sentencing: Davidson will not testify in penalty phase; judge makes history with cost ruling

Davidson isn't taking the stand.. blah blah blah!!

Read this...

Meanwhile, Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner ruled today that for the first time in Knox County judicial history he will instruct Davidson's jury that it is more expensive to execute someone than to sentence them to spend the rest of their life in prison.

At the request of defense attorney Doug Trant, Baumgartner said that he will tell jurors that a 2004 study by the state Comptroller's Office concluded that execution is a more expensive form of punishment than life without parole.

Prosecutors Leland Price and Takisha Fitzgerald contested the decision to no avail. They argued that such a move has never been authorized or approved by any appellate court and could unfairly prejudice the jury.

Trant confirmed that such an instruction has not been given in any other Knox County capital murder case. It was not immediately known if any other judges in the state have allowed similar rulings.

The judge also, over the state's objection, is merging all the murder counts, which essentially forces the jury to determine punishment for only one murder count for each victim.

Price argued that should an appellate court later determine fault with any single underlying crime on which the various murder counts are based the judge's ruling could result in the entire case being returned for a new trial.

Baumgartner insisted that he was doing nothing unusual in merging the counts.

"Obviously there is one murder (each)," Baumgartner said. "You can't have multiple murders. There are only multiple ways it can be accomplished. I think this is the appropriate way to handle it."

Jurors this morning got teary eyed as the families of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom discussed the impact the killings in January 2007 have had on their lives and showed photographs of the couple as they appeared before death.

The defense told jurors that Davidson was neglected and abused as a child and, by age 16, was a "lost cause."

However, they said the operators of a group home in Jackson, Tenn., where he spent nearly a year as a teenager will testify that Davidson responds well to a "structured environment" and could be a productive citizen if he is then locked up for the rest of his life.

The five-woman, seven-man jury spent roughly seven hours over two days before declaring Davidson guilty on Wednesday.

They deemed him guilty of the top count in 35 of 38 charges, ranging from the murder of both Christian, 21, and Newsom, 23, to kidnapping to robbery. They also found Davidson, 28, guilty of multiple counts of raping Christian.

Davidson's only reprieve - and it was largely irrelevant because of the murder convictions - came in the rape of Newsom. With no DNA evidence to directly link him to a rape that forensic evidence suggested was committed with an object, jurors opted for convictions of the lesser charge of facilitation of aggravated rape.

Today, prosecutors hope to prove aggravating circumstances to show that Davidson should die by lethal injection.

On the other side, defense attorneys Trant and David Eldridge look to pile so-called mitigating circumstances - reasons why they say Davidson should be spared death.

The jury's job will be three-fold:

n Decide whether aggravating factors, such as the heinousness of the crimes and prior criminal history, have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

n Determine if circumstances such as mental health woes, addictions or childhood abuse exist in Davidson's background.

n Then, weigh the two.

If the scales tip toward the aggravators, the law commands a death sentence. If the scales tip toward the mitigating circumstances, the jury then must decide between a sentence of life without parole and life, which carries a mandatory 51-year prison term.

The families of Christian and Newsom did not hesitate when asked what punishment they believe Davidson deserves following Wednesday's lengthy list of guilty verdicts, including convictions for first-degree murder.

"Both of our kids are dead, and he deserves nothing less," said Chris Newsom's mother, Mary Newsom.

Davidson is the second of four suspects to be tried. His brother, Letalvis Cobbins, was convicted in August and sentenced to life without parole.

Pending trial are suspects George Thomas, who will face a Hamilton County jury Dec. 1, and Vanessa Coleman, whose case is on hold pending a pre-trial appeal.

A fifth suspect, Eric Boyd, remains uncharged in the killings but is serving an 18-year federal prison term for hiding out Davidson after the slayings.

Hugh Newsom, Chris Newsom's father, who long has demanded all the cases be tried by Knox Countians, praised the jury and said Davidson's trial proved the community so enraged over the couple's death could fairly decide the suspects' fates.

"These jurors should be considered pillars of our community," he said. "They did an outstanding job. From now on, jurors (in the remaining cases) should be from Knox County."


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