Day Four of the trial of Letalvis Cobbins in the Christian-Newsom murders has concluded. Highlights of the session include the playing of another Cobbins inerrogation tape, the judge's interrogation of Cobbins to ensure he understood the charges against him and the impact of his guilty pleas, and forensic testimony providing unmistakable evidence that Cobbins participated in the gang rape of Channon Christian.
The third videotape of Cobbins' interrogation was played in court on Thursday. The following account combines stories from WATE and WBIR, both of which match each other, but each of which offers some unique facts:
Once again, Letalvis Cobbins claimed he didn't know the carjacking was about to take place. He said Davidson and Boyd did it. Cobbins said he went with his brother and co-defendant Lemaricus Davidson to Washington Ridge Apartments that Saturday night to meet Davidson's female friend.
He said when he, Davidson, and Eric Boyd got to the parking lot, they saw a couple kissing at an SUV with the door open. That's when he said Boyd and Davidson jumped out of the white car they drove to the apartments and ran up to the couple. Cobbins said he did not know what was going on, and he just followed his brother's direction to follow him to his house in the white car. Cobbins said he drove the car and followed the SUV.
When they arrived, Cobbins said he told his girlfriend Vanessa Coleman and best friend George Thomas to pack their things and get ready to leave. That's when he said he saw Davidson and Boyd lead Christian and Newsom to the house. He said their hands were tied and they were blindfolded. "I go in the house and started talking to G (George Thomas). I'm like, man they just did something crazy,""I say bro, what is you doing?" Cobbins told officers that he watched Boyd take Newsom back to the SUV and his brother take Christian to his bedroom. Boyd then came back 20 minutes later and went into the bedroom with Christian.
Cobbins said he took Coleman and Thomas to Vince "Vinnie" Wernimont's house to get away from the situation at 2316 Chipman Street, but not before he witnessed Christian crying. During the interrogation, Officer Still asked him if she was screaming. Cobbins said she was weeping and kept saying, "No, no".
Cobbins repeatedly denied having sex with Christian. When Detective Still asked if they would find Cobbins' DNA on Christian's body, Cobbins said he only gave Christian a glass of water. Cobbins also continued to claim that Davidson's white ex-girlfriend, Daphne Sutton, lied about seeing him at the Chipman Street house when she came to get her possessions. Sutton earlier testified that she had moved out on January 5th, a move which probably saved her life.
The full 118-page transcript of Cobbins' 2007 interrogation can be read HERE. It takes a couple of minutes to load completely. Knoxville News-Sentinel video report embedded below:
After Cobbins asked for clarification of the charges he pleaded guilty to on Monday, Judge Baumgartner swore him in to begin the process. The judge explained that Cobbins pleaded guilty to facilitating kidnapping, oral penetration without bodily injury and to aiding theft, a total of six counts. The judge said these pleas would result in eight to 12 years for facilitation, eight to 12 years for rape and two to four years for theft.
The judge also explained that the jury could still give Cobbins more prison time by convicting him on the original charges, not the lesser charges he pleaded guilty to. He told Cobbins he can't appeal the charges he pleaded guilty to and he didn't have to enter those pleas; instead, he could let the jury decide everything. Cobbins said he didn't know he couldn't appeal those pleas.
Jennifer Millsaps, who does forensics serology and DNA analysis for the Tennesse Bureau of Investigation, was called to the stand. Millsaps testified that "DNA is a genetic blueprint" and there are 13 markers used to identify an individual. She said there are a number of ways DNA can be degraded and bleach is one way to do that.
In this case, Millsaps said DNA samples were taken from Cobbins, Boyd, Davidson, Coleman, Wernimont, Sutton and the murdered couple. On Christian's striped shirt, Millsaps said she found sperm from Cobbins on one of the stains. There was limited sperm on another stain and Christian's DNA. Millsaps said five stains were found on Christian's jeans: DNA from her, sperm from Davidson and Cobbins and there was blood.
There were stains with Cobbins' sperm on the leg of Christian's jeans, Millsaps said. She also found Christian's blood on the knee area and the back seat area. Millsaps said an oral swab taken from Christian came back with Cobbins' DNA on it. Swabs from her vagina and rectum matched Davidson's DNA. A rectal swab taken from Newsom showed semen, but Millsaps said she couldn't determine whose it was. Millsaps also said she found Cobbins sperm on floral fabric that was used to bind Christian and Coleman's DNA showed up as well.
This, of course, implies that Channon Christian was gang-raped.
-- Knoxville News-Sentinel: Carjack/slaying trial, Day 4: 'They were crazy man': suspect defends inaction.
-- Knoxville News-Sentinel: Day Four Photo Gallery.
-- WATE Channel 6: Judge clears up guilty pleas for Letalvis Cobbins.
-- WBIR Channel 10: Cobbins Day 4 update: Judge questions Cobbins on guilty pleas.
-- WVLT Channel 8: LIVE BLOG: Cobbins' Christian-Newsom murder trial, day 4.
-- WVLT Channel 8: Video of 5:30 P.M. report.
-- WVLT Channel 8: Video of 6:00 P.M. report.
-- VNN Forum: Channon Christian - Christopher Newsom Murder Trial Coverage
-- Stormfront: Live coverage of the Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom Trial
-- The Phora: Knoxville trials. Christian and Newsom