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Man convicted in slayings of Tennessee couple

Man convicted in slayings of Tennessee couple

The man accused of being the ringleader of a carjacking that turned into the rapes and murders of a Tennessee couple was convicted Wednesday on nearly all counts, and now faces the possibility of the death penalty.
"We finally have the justice that the kids deserve," said Mary Newsom, whose 23-year-old son Christopher Newsom died with his 21-year-old girlfriend Channon Christian in the January 2007 attack.
The seven men and five women on the jury deliberated a little more than 8 hours before returning the verdict against Lemaricus Davidson, 28. The same panel will hear evidence Thursday on whether to sentence him to life in prison or death.
"There is but one verdict that is acceptable to us," said Hugh Newsom, Christopher Newsom's father. "Death," said Gary and Deena Christian, parents of Channon Christian.
Davidson was convicted on 35 of 38 counts, including premeditated murder, felony murder, robbery, kidnapping, rape of Christian and theft, and three lesser charges of facilitating Newsom's rape.
The defendant, wearing glasses and a dark sweater and slacks, showed no emotion as the verdicts were announced.
Christian's father rocked back and forth and occasionally pumped his fist. Prosecutors won't let him address the jury Thursday "just 'cause they think I might blow up. They might be right," he said. Christian's mother and brother are expected to give jury statements.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys had no comment as they left the courtroom.
Prosecutors contended Davidson was the ringleader in the crimes in which at least three others were allegedly involved. The defense portrayed him as a bystander to the crimes but not the killer.
The killings became a racially charged case: The victims were white and middle class, and the defendants poor and black. Some conservative Internet commentators and white supremacist agitators claimed it didn't get the same attention as white-on-black hate crimes. Authorities said race didn't appear to be a factor.
The crimes were so gruesome a prosecution staffer fainted during testimony and the FBI is investigating death threats against Davidson's court-appointed attorneys.
The prosecution presented six days of testimony linking Davidson to the crimes through DNA evidence from semen on Christian's body and fingerprints on a bank statement in her vehicle and on the trash bags that wrapped her body.
Jurors twice 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," he said.
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, Newsom's 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, Kentucky, are awaiting trial in state court on murder and related counts.


Updated : 2021-05-12 04:27 GMT+08:00