Christian-Newsom Murders: Trials Scheduled; Police, Pastors Prepare

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Christian-Newsom Murders: Trials Scheduled; Police, Pastors Prepare

Knoxville (WVLT) - We now know when four accused killers could go to trial.

But not whether they'll be on trial for their lives.

Volunteer TV’s Gordon Boyd has new developments coming out of court hearings on the case that already is drawing national attention, but some claim not enough.

That’s what has everybody from police to pastors concerned.

The three men and a woman accused of carjacking, raping, robbing and killing Channon Christian, and Christopher Newsom won't start going to trial until next May.

Letalvis Cobbins is set to be tried first, on May 12, 2008. Lemaricus Davidson a week later on May 19th.

Vanessa Coleman, Cobbins' former girlfriend, faces trial three weeks after that on June 16, 2008. Sitting silently through her hearing, Coleman mouthed the words, “I love you” as she was led out.

George Thomas, the man accused of shooting Christopher Newsom and burning his body, will be tried last. His trial is scheduled to begin on August 11, 2008.

All four suspects face more than 40 charges, including first degree murder, kidnapping and rape.

It’s frustrating for families, opportunities for others.

There are no ifs, ands or buts about that. We definitely feel the pain and sorrow of a family that has lost their children.

From the moment police found Chris Newsom's body, burned, down by the railroad tracks to finding Channon Christian stuffed in garbage bags in a house on Chapman, friends and strangers have poured tears and anger.

Both flowing again, as the accused killers find out when they'll be going to trial.

The Christians and Newsoms sitting silently, Channon's father's body language speaking volumes. He was visibly angry, rocking in his seat, gripping the back of a spectator pew, fixing cold stares on Lemaricus Davidson and his brother, Letalvis Cobbins.

“You cannot view what has taken place and not feel remorse for the family, At the same time, you cannot cast judgment as to who did it, who did not do it,” says Reverend Ezra Maize, head of the Knox County NAACP.

The Head of Knox County's NAACP says he's come to court to help keep the peace.

For every blog or website honoring the victims, another paints their murders as race motivated.

“We have no evidence to support the fact that this crime was a race crime,” says Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen, IV. “It appears to have been a random violent act.”

“The protests, the marches that have been rumored to come to town, that has been a major concern,” says Rev. Maize.

Groups wondering why prosecutors haven't demanded the death penalty yet.

“We've had some discussions of course, we're still putting evidence together,” says Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols.

It's not time, but Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam says it is time to make sure, “that when the trial comes we can have a fair trial.”

“Don't want something to happen here that might turn into a basis for transferring the trial,” says Chief Owen.

The Reverend Maize maintains, the NAACP trusts city leaders and police to handle what ever the trials or the case itself, might bring. “We don't have any counter marches or counter protests lined up. We don't want to ad fuel, to the fire, if they choose to come to town. We'll allow them to do what they're going to do.”

Neither the Newsom nor Christian families spoke after court Thursday, but through their lawyers, Channon’s parents told WVLT they don't believe race was a factor in their daughter's or Chris's murders.

Nevertheless, at least one group, white supremacist or racially focused, depending on your prospective has vowed to rally here in several weeks.

Later this month, though Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale will ask commissioners to pass a resolution requesting that group not come.


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