Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The 2007 rape, torture and murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom (WARNING) 

OK, so let's create a level playing field here. I have not even heard of this on CBS, ABC, NBC or any of the cable news services, even FOX NEWS. OR in any of the Newsrags or other publications. Read this and weep.

Bet you $20 you did not hear this on the national news.

The animals 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 breast and put chemicals in her mouth ... and then murdered her.

On 6 January 2007, Knoxville, Tennessee, residents Christopher Newsom, Jr., 23, and Channon Christian, 21, went out for a dinner date at a local restaurant, then headed to a friend's house to watch a movie. They never came back.
When the couple had failed to return by the following morning, their parents notified police. Christopher Newsom's body was found near some railroad tracks in East Knoxville that afternoon, but Channon Christian remained missing. A trace run on Christian's cell phone helped authorities locate her abandoned vehicle the next day, and fingerprints raised from an envelope inside the automobile led police to the residence of 25-year-old Lemaricus Devall "Slim" Davidson, where they discovered Christian's body stashed inside a large trash can and covered with sheets.

The details of the crime as they emerged in the press were horrific (albeit somewhat sensationalized). News account said that carjackers had taken Christian's vehicle at gunpoint, bound and blindfolded the couple, and transported them to Davidson's residence. At that location, Newsom was raped (in front of Christian) by multiple assailants,

his penis was cut off, he was shot multiple times, his body was set on fire, and, finally, his corpse was taken away and dumped alongside railroad tracks. With Newsom out of the way, the perpetrators next focused their depravity on Christian. Over the ensuing two days, they beat her, gang-raped her, urinated upon her, cut off one of her breasts (while she was still alive), and poured bleach down her throat. As with Newsom, they finished up by shooting her multiple times and setting her body on fire, but instead of dumping her corpse elsewhere, they wrapped it in a blanket and stuffed it into a trash can which was left inside the residence.

(The preceding paragraph is the version of the crime initially presented on the Internet and in press accounts. Subsequent reports have contradicted many of these details, chiefly that neither Newsom nor Christian was mutilated as described, and that the perpetrators murdered Christian within a day of the kidnapping [rather than holding her captive for several days], poured cleaning solution into her mouth post-mortem to eliminate DNA evidence [rather than as a form of torture], and killed her by binding her inside several plastic garbage bags and leaving her to suffocate [but did not shoot her or set her body on fire as they did with Newsom]).

Five suspects were arrested and charged with the murders of Christopher Newsom and Channon Christian (and related crimes). LeMaricus Davidson, along with his brother, Letalvis "Rome" Cobbins (24), and George Geovonni "Detroit" Thomas (27), were all indicted on a total of 46 counts each: 16 counts of felony murder, 2 counts of premeditated murder, 2 counts of especially aggravated robbery, 4 counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, 20 counts of aggravated rape, and 2 counts of theft. Vanessa Coleman (18), was indicted on a total of 40 counts: 12 counts of felony murder, 1 count of premeditated murder, 1 count of especially aggravated robbery, 4 counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, 20 counts of aggravated rape, and 2 counts of theft. Eric DeWayne "E" Boyd (34) was not indicted and faced federal charges only as an accessory after the fact. Boyd was convicted in federal court of being an accessory to the carjacking and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

On 25 August 2009, Letalvis "Rome" Cobbins was found guilty of multiple counts of first-degree and felony murder in the death of Christian but opted for lesser charges of facilitating murder in the slaying of Newsom. He was additionally convicted of multiple charges of rape and kidnapping and robbery and received a life sentence, as did George Thomas. Vanessa Coleman was sentenced to 53 years in prison. On October 2009, Lemaricus Davidson, convicted on kidnapping, rape and murder charges, was sentenced to death.

In December 2011, the convictions of Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas, and Vanessa Coleman were overturned by a special judge who ruled that the presiding judge at their trials, Richard Baumgartner, was intoxicated at the time. The four defendants will be facing new trials.

As for the question of why the murders weren't prosecuted as a hate crime, the answer is that no evidence demonstrated the race of the victims was a motivation in their killing. Police, prosecutors, and the families of the victims all stated that they believed Newsom and Christian were not victims of a hate crime.

It is true that the bulk of the initial news reportage about the Newsom/Christian murders was local (predominantly in Tennessee, where the crimes took place, and in neighboring Kentucky) while the case received little or no national coverage by major news outlets, a phenomenon some attributed to racial bias on the part of the national news media. However, the fact is that only a tiny handful of the approximately 15,000 murders that occur in the United States every year makes national news, and the cases that do tend to attract prolonged, nationwide coverage are ones exhibiting a combination of factors (e.g., scandal, mystery, sexual elements, celebrity involvement, shockingly large numbers of deaths, murders of children and other victims who elicit especial sympathy) that makes them particularly fascinating and compelling to the public at large, such as the still-unsolved murder of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, the mysterious disappearance (and death) of pregnant Laci Peterson, the massacre of 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech, and the celebrity trial to determine whether actress Lana Clarkson committed suicide or was killed by reclusive record producer Phil Spector.

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