Torture Slaying Trial: Video Used Against Defense

Jamie Satterfield, Knoxville News Sentinel, October 23, 2009

Defenders of the alleged ringleader in the torture slayings of a Knox County couple faced their biggest hurdle Thursday–their client’s own mouth.

“Was she over there to buy dope?” Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Agent Forest “Woody” Webb asked Lemaricus Davidson about slaying victim Channon Christian in a police video shown to jurors.

“I ain’t never seen the girl before in my life,” Davidson answered during the interrogation shortly after his Jan. 11, 2007, arrest.

Defense attorneys David Eldridge and Doug Trant have been trying this week to sow seeds of doubt about whether Christian, 21, and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, 23, were victims of a carjacking turned kidnapping, rape and murder by suggesting the couple went to Davidson’s Chipman Street neighborhood in search of drugs.

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But Thursday, prosecutors Leland Price and Takisha Fitzgerald fired back with Davidson’s own statement, which contains contradictions to his current claims and changing accounts of what he knew and did in the weekend the couple met a horrific end.

Davidson first told Webb and Knoxville Police Department Investigator Ryan Flores that he was nothing more than a drug dealer.

“Selling dope, that’s what I do, sell dope,” he said. “I don’t kill people though.”

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He insisted he never saw Christian and Newsom in the vehicle or in his house. That account changed, however, when he learned that Cobbins and Thomas had been nabbed in Kentucky. Flores hinted they were telling tales about Davidson.

“They had both of them in the backseat tied up,” Davidson said. “I know the girl was at my house. I know that (Thomas) killed the dude. . . . When that girl was in my house, I wasn’t there.”

Davidson didn’t stick with that story long, though.

“I stayed there like five minutes (after Christian was brought into his house),” Davidson said. “I bumped up against her a couple of times, but that’s the only contact I had. . . . She grabbed me though. She touched my arm.”

Davidson said Christian told him, “I don’t want to die.” He said he assured her that she wouldn’t.

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[Editor’s Note: The earlier story recounting the defense’s attempt to rebut kidnapping charges against Davidson and readers’ comments can be read here.]

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