On Day Six of the trial of Letalvis Cobbins in the Christian-Newsom murder case, a primary juror was excused from the panel, Cobbins himself testified, possibly sealing his own fate in the process, and the defense finally rested, permitting Judge Richard Baumgartner to send the case to the jury.
Only one source, the Knoxville News-Sentinel Twitter stream, reported the replacement of the primary juror. The juror replaced was identified as a female who was a prior rape victim. She decided she could no longer handle being involved in the case and questioned her ability to render a fair judgment, so she was excused without penalty. The race of the excused juror was not disclosed, though we know the primary jury consisted of two Black men, five Black women, one White man, two White women, one Asian man, and one Hispanic man. The race of the replacement juror was also not disclosed, although we also know that the official alternates were three White men and one Black man. The reason the racial composition of the jury has been an issue is because ever since a black-majority jury acquitted O.J. Simpson, the ability of Blacks to render justice against Black defendants has been called into question. Update: New story from the Knoxville News-Sentinel indicates that the dismissed juror was Black and her replacement is White.
Next, Letalvis Cobbins decided to take the stand. Immediately his attorneys Scott Green and Kim Parton asked Judge Baumgartner for permission to withdraw as counsel if their client insisted on taking the stand against their advice; Judge Baumgartner denied their request. Cobbins then proceeded to illustrate first hand the wisdom of his lawyers' advice - and his own stupidity in taking the stand.
WATE Channel 6 provides the best summation of Cobbins' testimony. In his testimony, Cobbins continued his strategy of minimizing his own role in the atrocities against Channon Christian and Chris Newsom while maximizing the role of Lemaricus Davidson. He continued to insist that Davidson had intimidated not only him, but also the other three perpetrators, even threatening to shoot them if they tried to free Christian. However, this is weak, because the other perps could have overpowered Davidson at any time had they wanted. In addition, the prosecution was quick to remind the jury that Cobbins had lied repeatedly during the interrogation, thus casting doubts upon the veracity of his current testimony. Some pertinent excerpts from WATE's account of Cobbins' testimony posted below:
Eventually, Christian and Newsom were brought back to the Chipman Street house and all four suspects were there. Cobbins said he told Thomas and Coleman they should leave because of what was going on, but that never happened. Cobbins said Christian and Newsom were brought into the house blindfolded and bound. He said Christian was sitting in the living room and he brought her some water. He also said the wet blunt he smoked was making him feel sick. He repeatedly said he told Davidson what they were doing was crazy and "ya'll trippin."
Cobbins said Davidson called everyone into the living room and told them they were being too quiet and demanded to know what they were doing. Cobbins said he told Davidson they were going to leave. That's when he said Davidson pulled a gun without pointing it at anyone and told them he'd shoot them, but not kill them, if they tried to leave. Cobbins said he decided he had no choice but to stay so he sat down. He and Coleman smoked more pot.
Cobbins said Christian was taken to a bedroom and tied up on the bed. He said he brought her more water and untied some of her bindings so she could drink. He said Christian asked him what was going on and he said he didn't know. He said she also asked if he knew where her boyfriend was and he said he didn't know.
Cobbins said Christian asked him if he could talk Davidson into letting her go. He told her that he would try. He said she told him she'd do anything and even offered oral sex. He accepted her offer and heard noises that concerned him as he ejaculated. Cobbins said he put Christian back like he'd found her and went back into the living room with Coleman.
He said Davidson and Thomas came back into the house for awhile, left about half an hour later, then returned again later. Cobbins said he noticed dark stains on Davidson's and Thomas' shirts after they came back the second time.
He said Sunday started with a guy showing up at the house to get drugs from Davidson, but he didn't stay long. Then he said Davidson's girlfriend, Daphne Sutton, came to get her things. He said Davidson had called and told her do to this. Cobbins said Davidson and Sutton got into an argument. He said later, Davidson gave Coleman some clothes that turned out to be Christian's.
Cobbins said Davidson brought Christian into the kitchen. She had no clothes on from the waist down. He said Davidson called everyone into the kitchen, then tried to choke Christian, who fell to the floor. Cobbins said he asked Davidson again what's he doing and tells him that he's "trippin."
Cobbins said Davidson tried to force Coleman to check Christian's pulse, but she said she didn't know how to do it, that she wasn't a nurse. He said he spoke to Thomas again of trying to leave, but Davidson threatened them. Cobbins said Davidson tied Christian up in a fetal position, then he broke down in tears for a moment. He said Davidson put Christian in the trash can and made everyone else go into another room. "After it got daylight," Cobbins said, Davidson left and the rest of them left the Chipman Street house on foot.
The very last sentence about "daylight" refers to Monday morning, so this means that Channon Christian was put to death sometime on Sunday night. The medical examiner had previously testified that Christian's death could have occurred any time between Sunday night and Monday morning, so Cobbins' testimony narrows it down. Embedded below is a Knoxville News-Sentinel video of Cobbins' testimony. It is over 41 minutes long:
Afterwards, Judge Baumgartner began reading 128 pages of instructions to the jury, after which he officially handed them the case at 4:40 p.m. They're taking Sunday off to recharge their emotional batteries, and will begin deliberating on Monday morning. The jurors have 38 counts to consider in this case, including 18 counts of murder. They must reach a verdict on each one. The facilitation charges should be a slam dunk - guilty, with little debate. The murder charges could be tougher, but I believe a guilty verdict is highly probable, simply because Cobbins' effort to dump on Davidson is so transparent. The death penalty may prove to be a more difficult sell, and I wouldn't be surprised if Cobbins doesn't get the death penalty. This would be a travesty of justice if he doesn't get sentenced to death, but jurors no longer have the balls to sentence people to death as rountinely as in the past.
-- Knoxville News-Sentinel: Carjack/slaying trial, Day 6: Defense rests; Cobbins only witness.
-- Knoxville News-Sentinel Video: Letalvis Cobbins Trial; Closing Arguments.
-- WATE Channel 6: Cobbins takes stand in own defense, deliberations begin Monday
-- WATE Channel 6 Video: Cobbins testifies.
-- WATE Channel 6 Video: How was Letalvis Cobbins perceived by the jury?
-- WBIR Channel 10: Cobbins trial day 6: Defense rests.
-- WVLT Channel 8: LIVE BLOG: Cobbins' Christian-Newsom murder trial, day 6.
-- VNN Forum: Channon Christian - Christopher Newsom Murder Trial Coverage
-- VNN Forum: Cobbins on stand: "I had oral sex with girl"
-- Stormfront: Live coverage of the Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom Trial
-- Stormfront: SF Christian/Newsom Trials Audio Archive Thread.
-- The Phora: Knoxville trials. Christian and Newsom