Friday, October 30, 2009
Congratulations, Knoxville Jury! Death Penalty For Lemaricus Davidson In Christian-Newsom Atrocity Case
It took a couple of days, but on October 30th, 2009, the Knoxville jury of seven women and five men returned a verdict of death against Lemaricus Davidson, widely regarded as the leader an orchestrator of the carjacking, rape, torture, and murder of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom. Full stories from the Knoxville News-Sentinel, WBIR Channel 10, WVLT Channel 8, and WATE Channel 6 (with video).
-- Watch WVLT raw video of the verdict announcement HERE.
-- Watch WVLT raw video of the Christian and Newsom families' reaction HERE.
The complete list of 38 charges on which Davidson was convicted were previously published by WBIR Channel 10, the Knoxville News-Sentinel, and WVLT Channel 8. Previous post on this trial HERE.
The jurors heard closing arguments in the penalty phase of this 11-day trial on October 30th before getting a final round of legal instructions from Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner. Prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald told jurors Davidson killed Christian and her boyfriend Newsom to save his own neck. "The only thing Chris had left was the knowledge of who his attacker was," Fitzgerald said. "(Davidson) took everything else. The only thing (Channon) had left was the knowledge of who her attacker was."
Defense attorney Doug Trant asked jurors to spare Davidson's life, noting the abuse he suffered and the foster parents who still love him. "I'm going to ask you to spare Lemaricus Davidson's life," he said. "I'm going to ask you to do it for that little boy who was sexually abused ... I'm going to ask you to do it for that little boy who was whipped by extension cords and paperweights."
Afterwards, the jury retired for deliberations at 10:24 A.M., tasked to choose between death by lethal injection, life without parole, or a mandatory 51-year "life" sentence. Four hours later, around 2:30 P.M., the jury returned the verdict of death. Jurors found that a long list of aggravating factors, including the torture of the victims and their ability to identify the defendant, outweighed all mitigating circumstances brought by the defense. Davidson most likely will be taken to Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville where death row is housed. Some male inmates, however, are incarcerated at Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg for security reasons.
Community reaction was documented in a WBIR Channel 10 story. Most people contacted supported the death sentence; some even wondered why Letalvis Cobbins wasn't also sentenced to death. One person who was opposed to the death penalty before this trial now favors it. The sheer barbarity of these crimes seems to be awakening the community to the compelling need to dispense the ultimate punishment to "the worst of the worst".
WVLT Channel 8 reports that the Christian and Newsom families say the death sentence didn't bring closure, since both George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman remain to be tried, but it does offer some relief. Gary Christian pumped his fist, then stared down his daughter's killer as the jury read the sentences. "That was hard for those 12 people to do . I know that," Gary Christian said after court. "But it would've have been hard for me to do." Deena Christian had a message for anyone who questions the morals of the death penalty. "Put your son on the railroad tracks. Put your daughter or son in a trashcan, and then look at me and ask me that question, if it happens to you."
Execution won't be immediate. Condemned criminals in Tennessee spend an average of 19 years on death row. One Tennessee death row inmate, Donald Strouth, has been on death row for 31 years. The national average is 12 years and 9 months, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Tennessee's lethal injection method is a cocktail of three drugs. The first, sodium thiopental, is an anesthetic at a dosage that essentially puts the recipient into a rapid-onset coma. The second drug, pancuronium bromide, is a muscle relaxant at a dosage that stops the recipient's breathing. The final drug, potassium chloride, induces cardiac arrest.
My preferred method of execution would be a broomstick up the ass, another broomstick down the throat, bleach to clean up the evidence, and then stuff him inside a garbage bag and into a trash can - alive - basically the same way he did to Channon Christian.