Letalvis Cobbins found guilty in Christian - Newsom murders
Posted: Aug 25, 2009 5:50 AM
Cobbins hears verdict in double murder trial
Families react to guilty verdicts for Letalvis Cobbins
Deena Christian said, "I'm very relieved and very grateful," adding, "a guilty for one was a guilty for both."
"What they did to her, you can't even show it on your television. My son chose not to see it and I respect his choice," Gary Christian said.
"I was very happy to hear the verdict and he got should have gotten," Mary Newsom said.
Hugh Newsom said he felt the not guilty verdicts regarding their son were "a matter of interpretation," adding, "I don't have any problems with the way it was handled."
KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- After a day-and-a-half of deliberating, the jury found Letalvis D. Cobbins guilty Tuesday of murder in the slayings of Channon Christian and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, in 2007.
Cobbins was found guilty of first degree murder in Christian's case.
In regards to Chris Newsom, Cobbins was found guilty of facilitation of first degree felony murder, which is a lesser charge than the most severe one he faced.
Cobbins was the first of four defendants to be tried in the case. He faces the possibility of the death penalty due to the convictions in Christian's slaying.
Cobbins was convicted of a total of 33 counts including: First degree felony murder
First degree premeditated murder
Especially aggravated robbery
Especially aggravated kidnapping with a weapon
Aggravated rape with a weapon
Aggravated rape with bodily injury
Aggravated rape while aided by others
Theft of property
The jury found Cobbins not guilty of five counts including the murder of Newsom during his rape, the murder of Christian during Newsom's rape and three counts of aggravated rape of Newsom.
The jury will return Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. for the sentencing hearing and the Christian family will read their victims' impact statements.
The Newsom family won't read their impact statements due to the nature of the convictions regarding Chris.
Judge Richard Baumgartner gave the jurors the rest of Tuesday off.
The jurors worked about 10 hours Monday as well as Tuesday morning before reaching a verdict. They never asked Judge Baumgartner any questions during their deliberations.
About the jury and the charges
The jury is made up of six women and six men. Six are black, five are white and one is Asian.
The jurors had 38 counts to consider in this case, including 18 counts of murder. They had to reach a verdict on each count. Click here to read the verdict forms.
The jury in this case is also the sentencing jury and it has the final say on the sentence.
If jurors can't agree on the death penalty sentence, they can discuss lesser sentences such as life without parole.
Christians: "very, very, very grateful to the jury for seeing the truth"
After the verdict was announced, Channon's mother, Deena Christian, said, "I'm very relieved and very grateful," adding, "a guilty for one was a guilty for both."
Deena said she felt Channon and Chris "both got justice today." Before the first verdict was read, she said, "I don't even know if I was breathing."
She said despite her belief that the jury would find Cobbins guilty, "You never know what's in someone else's mind and heart."
Deena said no matter what sentence the jury gives Cobbins, "It won't make a difference to me." She added that the sentencing will be difficult.
When asked where she gets her strength, Deena said, "I feel sometimes that someone somewhere is holding me up because I couldn't do it on my own."
Channon's father, Gary, said, "I was saying the day that they found her in that house, I promised my daughter that I would see who did this to her in hell. This is the second step. We've got a long way to go and a lot more to deal with."
Gary admitted that when the first guilty verdict was read, "I did give it the old Tiger Woods fist clench."
He said when Cobbins testified that Channon offered oral sex to him in exchange for help escaping, "I was gone, brother. I didn't contain myself. I was gone, but there was one obstacle. My wife had a hold of my britches and it was like running into a wall. It reminded me that I needed to sit down."
He added, "What they did to her, you can't even show it on your television. My son chose not to see it and I respect his choice. I wish I could've done that. I will always see her as my beautiful, young daughter, but I will never forget what they did."
Gary said, "I'm very, very, very grateful to the jury for seeing the truth." However, he added, "This doesn't square anything." Then Deena said, "This doesn't bring her back."
"There's been an unbelievable amount of support" for his family, Gary said, adding that he took two calls Monday from complete strangers.
His prediction for Cobbins' sentencing is, "He will get death. He sure will."
Newsoms: "He got what he should have gotten."
Chris Newsom's mother, Mary, said, "I was very happy to hear the verdict and he got what he should have gotten. I think the jury did a fine job. I think they took their time and considered each point and I think they did a fine job."
She said before the first verdict was announced, "I was nervous. I was shaking."
Chris' father, Hugh, said he felt the not guilty verdicts regarding their son were "a matter of interpretation," adding, "I don't have any problems with the way it was handled."
Hugh said despite his expectations about the verdict, "You never know, you know, until the words are uttered by the foreman."
Mary said they get their strength from "God above and from prayers." Hugh added, "We still believe we'll get to see him again."
When asked about the sentencing Wednesday, Mary said, "We'll get through it. We'll do it for Chris."
About the crimes
The other suspects who are charged with murder in the case are: Lemaricus Duvall Davidson (Cobbins' half brother), George Giovanni Thomas and Vanessa Coleman, who was Cobbins' girlfriend.
Those three could also face the death penalty if they're convicted. They're being tried separately.
"Christian, a University of Tennessee student, and Newsom were on a date Jan. 6, 2007, when her sport utility vehicle was carjacked at gunpoint by several people in Knoxville.
The attackers blindfolded and bound the couple and took them to a rundown rental house. Police concluded Newsom was soon taken away, sexually assaulted, shot in the back of the head, set on fire, and left beside some railroad tracks. Christian was beaten and repeatedly raped over 24 hours. An autopsy said she died of suffocation after she was choked, wrapped in plastic bags, and dumped in a trash can."
Carjack/slayings statements: Suspect plays blame-game
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