Day Three of the trial of Letalvis Cobbins in the Christian-Newsom murder case is in the books, and the highlights were a dispute over witness immunity and the recording of Cobbins' interrogation.
Before the jury was brought in Wednesday morning, the attorneys argued about testimony given by Vincent Wernimont on Tuesday August 18th. Vincent Wernimont had testified that he thought federal authorities granted him immunity. He was recalled to the stand after the jury came in Wednesday and testified that he understood he wasn't granted immunity.
Then Natasha Hays was called to the stand. She lived in Kentucky and knew Cobbins, Vanessa Coleman, George Thomas and Stacey Lawson, who testified Tuesday. Hays said she came to Knoxville with the group at times, and met Davidson in mid-December 2007. Cobbins stayed at Hays' house after the murders. She testified that she wasn't aware of the killings, but overheard him say, "if I go down I'm taking you all with me."
But the main attraction was the two-hour recording of the interrogation of Letalvis Cobbins. During the first hour, the recording showed how Cobbins was resistant at first, but slowly broke down as the police wore away his reserve. Note that the cops were actively planting in Cobbins' mind the possibility that Lemaricus Davidson was the "bad guy" in the deal in order to induce Cobbins' cooperation; this strategy appears to be continuing during the trial. But it was during the second hour that Cobbins broke loose and "bared his soul", so to speak. Here's the pertinent excerpt from the WATE Channel 6 story:
He slowly began to open up, saying that Davidson said he was going on a robbing spree and to carjack some people. Cobbins said Davidson asked him to join in, but he said, "I love you, but I'm not dying for you, bro."
On the night of the carjacking, Cobbins claimed he was in a car with Davidson and he thinks Eric Boyd, who was later convicted as an accessory to the murders and sentenced to 18 years. Cobbins said they went to Washington Ridge Apartments and Davidson and Boyd went up to Christian's SUV and carjacked it as the couple was kissing. He said he followed the SUV back to Chipman Street.
Cobbins said he left and returned later to find white "dude" (Newsom) and Boyd (?) gone. He also said the white girl (Christian) was with Davidson. Cobbins described Christian sitting in the living room and told Jones, "She looked terrified." Cobbins said Davidson and Boyd brought Christian and Newsom into the house and tied them up. He also said Boyd left later with Newsom and a gun to his back.
Cobbins claimed Davidson took Christian, who was blindfolded with her hands tied, into a bedroom. He said later he saw her sitting in the living room without a blindfold. Cobbins said he left the house with Coleman and Thomas and when he returned the next afternoon, the couple was gone.
The prosecution then called a number of forensic witnesses to flesh out the testimony. Afterwards, Channon Christian's parents said they had no sympathy listening to Cobbins' interrogation. They described his admissions as one lie after another, finally getting to the truth that he was involved in the carjacking that led to the murders. "He may be a coward, but he did what he did and he knows he did it and he needs to pay for it," Deena Christian said. "I'd be crying too if I was him," Gary Christian said. "He got caught. He got busted. That's why he was crying, not because he was scared of his brother," Deena added. WATE Channel 6 news video available via YouTube below:
Additional information on today's proceedings available at the links provided below.
-- Knoxville News-Sentinel: Guns found after slayings don't match up.
-- Knoxville News-Sentinel: Carjack/slaying trial, Day 3: Witness' immunity claim in question.
-- Knoxville News-Sentinel Photo Gallery of Day Three.
-- WATE Channel 6: On tape: Crying Cobbins tries to deny involvement in murders. Includes video.
-- WBIR Channel 10: Cobbins Trial Day 3: Defense describes Cobbins' crying like a little girl. Includes direct video link HERE.
-- WVLT Channel 8: LIVE BLOG: Cobbins' Christian-Newsom murder trial, day 3
-- 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