Home > Crime > Vanessa Coleman Trial – Day 2

Vanessa Coleman Trial – Day 2


Some random thoughts…

We heard from eleven witnesses yesterday so the trial is moving along at a pretty quick pace, however most of what we heard yesterday and more than likely today, are just ‘appetizers’, the pre-game show so to speak.  The real ‘entree’, the meat and potatoes, will be in the testimony from Dr. Darinka Mileusnik-Polchan, ME and the handwriting analyst who analyzed ‘Nessie’s’ journal.

I have often commented on how enormously difficult it must be for Deena, Gary, Mary, and Hugh to endure these multiple trials and to hear the horrors inflicted on their children over-and-over again.  For some reason it really hit me yesterday how difficult these trials must be for Channon and Chris’s best friends – Kara Sowards and Josh Anderson.  They have testified and each of the trials and I don’t imagine it has gotten any easier.

Case in Chief continues…

(Mr. Lavit has shown up early.  After yesterday’s tongue lashing by Judge Baumgartner I would say this was a pretty smart move on his part!)

9:03 Nessa brought in.  She is wearing a short-sleeved pink shirt today. As per usual,

Venessa's parents in the courtroom

her parents are in the courtroom.

9:05 Judge Baumgartner takes the bench – late start

Some minor housekeeping issues taken care of.  Certain statements by Coleman and her mother will be allowed in as the defense has withdrawn their motion.

If Coleman takes the stand and claims she was a hostage in the Chipman Street house then prosecutors can bring in Coleman’s comments about smoking dope with the other perpetrators as it goes to the fact that she did have freedom of movement in the house!

9:15 the jury is brought in.

First witness, Kileen Bible. Jan. 7, Sunday into Monday, she was awakened around 1:45am by the police asking about the whether she saw the 4-Runner.  She identified photos of the 4-Runner and the street where she saw it.  She saw the 4-Runner on the 8th, but not the 7th.

No cross by the defense.

Dan Crenshaw is called.  Knoxville PD Forensic Department – works crime scenes and does fingerprint analysis.  He runs through his training and lengthy career.  He is declared a fingerprint analysis expert witness.

Leland Price in action

Jan 7th at 2pm Crenshaw was called to a location off Cherry Street to collect evidence from the 4-Runner.  When he arrived at the scene he was told that Chris’s body had been found and it was probable the vehicle was related.

Crenshaw said the 4-Runner was clean and had been apparently been wiped-down.  He remembered the bank envelope that was recovered from the vehicle.  He found a usable print and ran it the AFIS database and was able to tie the right thumbprint to Lemaricus Davidson.

Note:  Without this single print the case likely would not have been solved!

Crenshaw identifies several items and photos that are identified and moved into evidence.

Crenshaw also did fingerprint analysis on the 5 trash bags Channon had been stuffed into. Davidson’s palm print was found on the outermost bag.

His print was also found on a shoe store receipt of Channon’s. Ripped-up photographs found in the trash at 2316 Chipman, belonged to Channon, contained Davidson’s thumb-print.

No questions from the defense.

Keith DeBow is with the Knoxville PD and is an instructor and a member of the SWAT team.

DeBow was called to the house on Chipman Street house.  They got no response when they announced search warrant so they entered the house.

Debow helped clear the house, noticed some ammunition.  In the kitchen he saw the trash container was misshapen and realized there was probably a body in the trashcan.  When the lid of the can was removed Debow said there was no doubt it was Channon and she was deceased.

Debow identifies a diagram of the house on Chipman and some photographs of the scene.

Next Debow was called to another house about 6 miles from the Chipman house on Jan. 11th.  An armed suspect was in the house and they were to take him into custody.  This is the house that Davidson was hiding out in.  This is where Eric Boyd was assisting him to avoid law enforcement.

DeBow describes taking Davidson out of the house and into custody.

Witness passed by defense.

Jury question – How did you know Davidson was in the abandoned house?  DeBow’s commander provided the information via KPD major crimes.

Joe Cox is up next. He is City of Knoxville PD and a crime scene investigator.  On Jan. 9 he was called to 2316 Chipman.

He was told they found Channon’s body there and he then moved through the house and collected evidence.  The only thing that was touched before he arrived was the lid removed from the garbage can.  Nothing else was touched at the scene.  The TV was actually still on.  Cox photographed and videotaped the house.

Cox identifies a number of photos from each of the rooms in the small house that are entered into evidence.

At this time, Coleman is busy writing at the defense table.

He recalls 3 trash bags – 2 in the utility room and one next to the kitchen garbage can.

At Price’s request he marks where evidence was found on a diagram of the house.

Cox now takes us through photos of each room and pointing out evidence he identified.  We see Channon’s iPod, gun magazines, gun cleaning pads, empty ammo boxes, a rifle in a closet, a cell phone.  (The only room with a door is the bathroom – accordion doors in the front and back of the bathroom.) A gas can found in the kitchen, another cell phone, spray bottle with bleach in it.

One of the garbage bags continued multiple items and articles of clothing belonging to Chris and Channon, as well as the flower sheet material used to bind Chris.  Channon’s grey purse contained her cell phone and license that were burned.  Unbelievably, there was also white fabric found that was knotted.

This was the some material used to bind Channon with and I believe where the state found Coleman’s DNA.

Cox goes on to identify physical exhibits that are introduced into evidence.

Price now plays the video that Cox took of the scene.  Except that he is walking through the scene, this repeats what we saw in the photos.  The only difference is the walk around the outside of the house.  Next to the steps leading into the utility room from the back yard there is another gas can.

Witness passed.

Greene does cross.

Q The first search, you did the video first and the stills afterward?

A  Yes sir

Q Who went in first?

A  The SOS

Q  Who went in next?

A  I really don’t know

Q  How long after the first team went in did you go in?

A  About 30 mins

Q  So things where moved around and items that weren’t there were now there?

A  My notebook and fingerprint kit

Greene has Cox look at photographs (we have already seen) and asks Cox to identify items and goes into some questions about the how far the bathroom shelf and the hand held shower head stick out from the wall.

Vanessa’s red purse and its contents were picked up from the evidence locker at the Sheriff’s department.  They came from Kentucky.  Cox never opened the evidence boxes or looked at the contents.

Greene, no more questions.

Jury question – Are all the markings on the clothes from the lab?  Yes.

What was in the red handbag (Vanessa’s)?  Did it contain Britney Spears?

Judge Baumgartner explained that Cox would have no knowledge of that, but another witness coming up will be able to address that.

Beth Goodman is called to the stand.  She works for the Knoxville PD Forensic Department as a Senior Tech

She entered 22 received from B. Waggoner, ATF.  The gun was recovered from Kentucky.  She boxed it and entered into property room.

The gun was entered into evidence.

Next Channon’s pink heels sent by the ATF and a red skirt.

Next she identifies bleach bottle.

All entered into evidence.

No questions from defense.

Tim Schade is called next.  Evidence tech for Knoxville PD.  He is also accepted as a fingerprint expert witness.

He describes various materials and how prints are left and whether or not sweat and oils will be left behind.

He received 5 bags from the ME’s office and also lifted prints off the garbage bags that Channon was found in.

He is shown several exhibits and identifies it them as a pieces of bags all with Davidson’s left palm print.  We are then shown the remnants of the garbage bags from which the sample cuts were made.

He identifies a small white kitchen garbage bag.  They couldn’t get a reliable print off it.  This was the bag wrapped around Channon’s head.

Schade identifies Channon’s sweater and camisole.

He also received several 14 pieces of knotted flora fabric and several pieces of knotted pink cloth from the medical examiner’s office.

Next Schade identifies the garbage can that Channon was stuffed into.

Lavit questions Schade on cross.

Lavit wants to know if he examined the bags top to bottom and inside and out.  The answer is yes.

Q In the place where the prints were found, you did a cutting?

A Yes

Q Did you use AFIS?

A AFIS is database of fingerprints, not palm prints.

Q Did you find Vanessa’s prints?

A No

Q How do you get into AFIS?

A You get arrested and fingerprinted at some point

Lavit’s whole purpose is that Vanessa’s prints weren’t found.

Schade is excused.

Linda Littlejohn is called.  Littlejohn is from TBI forensic scientist in microanalysis.  Analyzes fibers and materials and chemicals at the TBI facility in Nashville.

She matched the fabrics from the crime scene – fracture match where fabric is cut and you are able to match the several pieces along the fracture line.  She was able to match four pieces – Newsom autopsy. Then there was 2 items where you match size shape and texture.  She was able to do this with a curtain and pieces of fabric from Channon’s autopsy.

Littlejohn identifies photos of the fabric evidence.  The floral curtain pieces were found at Chipman Street and also with both Channon and Chris’s autopsies.

Witness passed.

Greene says there was a lot of floral fabric and they all came from the same sheet.

Littlejohn says she doesn’t know if was a sheet or curtains because she didn’t have enough fabric to equal a sheet so she called them curtains.

Greene seems to have a sticking point about whether or not this was a sheet or curtain.

Witness released.

Mary Newsom is called to the stand. This is Chris’s mom.  She describes face and physical attributes.  He always wore a cap and always wore a belt.  He loved sneakers and bought Nike Shocks right before he was killed.

Mary gives Chris’s school and work history.

Mary also describes the last day she saw her son.  The fact that Chris didn’t come home that night didn’t worry them because he was 23 and they thought that night he intended to stay at his friend Jamie.  The Newsom’s began to worry after Channon’s mom called and said they thought Channon was missing.

Mary is identifying some of her son’s personal belongings.  She was just shown Chris’s belt that she identified, but is severely burnt – she is holding up better than I am.

Defense says in due respect, they pass the witness.

Deena Christian is called to the stand – Channon’s mom.  Deena is wearing her hair straight now – no more perm curls.

Deena says Channon was born in Texas but grew up in Tennessee.  She describes her daughter as beautiful in very sense.

Chris gave Channon the Britney Spears cologne set for Christmas that she carried in her purse all the time.

She was the assistant mgr at the shoe store where she worked part time.

Channon’s parent bought the 4-Runner for Channon and she pretty much lived in it.  So she had a lot of clothes either that she was using or old clothing in bags for goodwill.  The 4-Runner has a lot of stuff in it, but it was never dirty because that was her daddy’s rule.

Deena and Channon picked out the clothes Channon was going to wear to the party.

The last time Deena spoke with Channon was by phone around 5pm.

At 12:35 am Channon called and said she was coming home instead of staying at Kara’s.

Deena stayed up all the rest of the night waiting for her.

From about 3am on and the rest of the day she called Channon’s cell and it either went to voice mail or just rang like someone was turning off and on.

When Channon’s boss called to see if she was ok Deena went into panic mode.

She describes speaking with the Sheriffs Department and getting the cell phone pings for Channon phone.  The last ping was around Cherry Street, a bad section near Chipman Street.

She describes the scene where Channon’s vehicle was found.

She said once the police opened the 4-Runner and they saw the interior they knew Channon never drove the vehicle there.  Everything in the truck was missing, mud was caked all over and the seat was pushed all the way back so Channon would not have been able to reach the peddles.

Deena is shown photos that she identifies.  Many of the photographs are items of clothing were located at Chipman.  Some were the clothes Channon wore, item from her purse and the rest were items she was giving to Goodwill.

She now identifies a number of items that include the Britney Spears cologne and lotion as well as the pencil case – they have been emptied from the red bag that belonged to Coleman.  The bag is photographed next to the items.

Deena is now identifying the physical evidence and saying what items were Channon’s and which were not from the grey purse.

The same is being done with the contents of red purse.

Deena has been on the stand for forever – because so much of Channon and Coleman’s belongings were commingled in the two purses and some were in Nashville and some were in Kentucky, I believe the Prosecution is starting to tighten the noose on Coleman.

No questions for the defense.

The Judge says there is no reason to show some of the same exhibits multiple times.  He acknowledges why it was done with Denna, but cautions against doing it.

B Thomas is called to the stand – Custodian of Records for 1St Tennessee.  This is Channon’s bank.  Jan. 6th a debit card was used at Walgreen’s for five dollars and change at 5:29pm.

The balance after that date was $205.20 in her account.

No questions by the defense.

Kim Elkins is called.  She is Custodian of Records for Knoxville TVA Credit Union where Chris banked.

On Jan 7 there was a $100 withdrawal after 7pm.  The remaining balance in the account was $961.81.

Witness passed by defense.

Daren Williams called next.  He knew Davidson.  He went to the house and he saw Davidson driving the 4-Runner.  Davidson drove around the block and stopped and spoke with Williams for a minute.  There were 2 other people in the vehicle.  He couldn’t tell if anyone else was in the car.  He doesn’t know if they were male or black or white.

Williams came back later and saw the 4-Runner sitting in the gravel lot at Waste Connection.

Witness passed.

Lavit wants to know what month it was.  Williams said January.  Lavit wants to know when he discussed it with authorities.  Williams doesn’t know.

Jason Mynatt is called. He received a cell phone for Christmas.  He received several wrong number calls through Jan. 2007.

Price reads off a number of names, the perps and the deceased, etc.  Mynatt didn’t know any of them.

At 2:10 am a call came through from Chris Newsom’s phone.

No questions from defense.

Taylor Shadix is called.  She knows Daphne Sutton and Davidson.  She had been to 2316 Chipman Street.  Daphne, Kassie, Kayla, and Taylor worked at Sonic.

Her cell phone was called by Davidson when Daphne and he were fighting.  On Jan 7th he called her again looking for Daphne.  Taylor contacted Daphne to tell her Davidson was looking for her.

Pass the witness.

Lavit asks how many times she had been to Chipman Street.  10 times over 5 months.

You know Davidson through Daphne?  Yes.

Did you go there in January?  No they were split up by then.

Did you have a relationship with Mr. Davidson.  No not a personal relationship.

Did Davidson come to your house?  Yes for 10 minutes.

Kayla Troutt is called – another friend of Daphne’s.  She also worked at Sonic.

She had also met Davidson through Daphne.  She visited Daphne at 2316 Chipman Street.  She saw Cobbins at the house, but had no interaction.  She also saw Coleman there.

Davidson called her looking for Daphne the first weekend in January – late Saturday, the 6th into early Sunday. He called at least 25 times over 8 to 10 hours.

She saw Coleman at the Chipman Street house on or about January 1st.  She never spoke with Coleman.

She took Daphne to Davidson’s house to pick up her things.

Lavit asks how long she knew Davidson.  She said about 4-5 months.

Everyone who worked at Sonic knew Davidson.

Was Davidson violent or did you see bruises on Daphne.  No.

Did you know Davidson had a gun?  I never saw him with a gun.

She saw Vanessa, and Cobbins at the house, but not Stacey Lawson, George Thomas or Eric Boyd.

Lavit is pushing Kayla to say she saw Davidson when he was very angry and violent.  She ain’t going down that road with him!

Kayla identified a photo of the house at Chipman Street.

Fitzgerald clarifies the date she is referring to is the last week in December.  She also clarifies that Daphne was not staying at Chipman, but living at Cassie’s.

Jury question.

They want to see a photo of the front of the house which the Judge approves.

How could you see her if there was a blanket on the left?  The blanket was down or up on a nail.

Kayla is released.

Kassie Suttles is the last witness of the day.  Daphne was her manager at Sonic and they became friends.  She knew Davidson through Daphne.

Jan. 5th she picked Daphne up on Cherry Street because Daphne was coming to stay with her and her roommate Brandi.  Daphne was there on the 6th and 7th.

On Sunday, Jan. 7th she took Daphne over to Chipman Street to pick up some stuff.  The front door was open and the inside door blanket was pulled back. She saw Davidson in the house, but couldn’t say who else was there.

Daphne was in the house for 10 minutes.  She came out with a Sears bag.  They went back to Kassie’s.  she saw the 4-Runner in the parking lot because she looked out the window because the music was playing so loud.  Davidson got out and came in the house for 10 minutes.  He left alone.

On Monday Davidson showed up around 4.  She didn’t see the 4-Runner.  Monday night Davidson stayed there.  On Tuesday they dropped him at Ridgewood Apartments.  That was the last time she saw Davidson.

She identifies photos of her apartment and the 4-Runner.

She also is shown items from the Sears bag that she identifies.

Greene asks what day Kassie went to Chipman.  Sunday the 7th around 6pm.

You parked in front of the house?  Yes.

You could see in the house?  Yes.

There were no blankets over the doors? No.

You sure? Yes.

He is giving her a hard time about seeing into the living room!  OFGS the front room of the house is glass!

Were there police around that night?  No.

Sirens? No

Were there railroad tracks?  No, not from the house.

Did you know Taylor Shadix?  She went to my high school but I didn’t know here.

He talks about Davidson staying over Monday and them dropping him off around 5 on Tuesday.

Tuesday, Daphne’s mom called about the body being found.  Kassie was uncomfortable with what Daphne told her so she wanted Davidson out.

Greene implies she and Kayla were out in the hall discussing the case.  She says no!

5:46pm the Judge calls it a day.

  1. ritanita
    05/04/2010 at 9:35 pm

    Deena is one strong woman. I watched her ask for rubber gloves before she touched one item that belonged to her beloved daughter. Hearing that and then watching her sort the contents of the purses broke my heart. Yet, she went on and on, carefully showing Channon’s items to the jury and describing them.

    When the defense claims the perfume was a “gift” and that she only put 2 and 2 together later, I believe they severly underestimated the volume of Channon’s belongings that ended up with her in Kentucky.

    I’m sure the message came through loud and clear to the jury.

  2. David From TN
    05/04/2010 at 11:15 pm

    On the WBIR special trial coverage page, there are several videos. One of them, apparently from today, has a brief interview with Vanessa Coleman’s father. We learn that she is from a two-parent family and graduated from her small town high school with many friends. Her parents tried to bring her up right and believe she is innocent. They hope to take her home after the trial.

    The interviewer gently asked if Vanessa fell in “with the wrong crowd.” Her father said something like, “I’d rather not comment on that.”

  3. tezi
    05/05/2010 at 5:28 pm

    I think that little Miss Nessa feels like she’s going to walk out of this and go home.

    She’s as guilty as everyone else, maybe more so, because she admitted to giving Channon water. I also think that Nessa is the one who beat Channon in the genital area.

    Thanks for the great coverage donchais!!!!

    • donchais
      05/05/2010 at 5:44 pm

      Hi tezi!

      That’s only if we believe Nessa gave Channon water! I don’t for a minute think she felt any sympathy or compassion for Channon!

  4. Grammy
    05/13/2010 at 12:04 am

    If Vanessa was so innocent, how could she bare to have the majority of the contents of Channon’s purse in her own purse???? Yes, she knew where those items came from, get real. She’s pure trash and deserves death but I fear we’ll be lucky if she gets life without parole. Next the families will go after the first one again – Eric Boyd. He walked way too easily. If Vanessa had of ponied up and tried a little honesty, George Thomas would have gotten death as well cause she’s stated in her statements that he commited the murder of poor Chris Newsom but instead in court George Thomas was portrayed as innocent guy in the wrong place at the wrong time and (essentially the same as Vanessa except she’s saying she was forced to remain – yeah, she’s been “forced” to get even fatter in jail too) when he was actually a cold blooded murderer too. He should be on death row with Davidson. They all should be!!!! I’ll get off my soapbox, I live in the Knoxville area and it has just amazed all of us that this even happened here. This is not the kind of place you see these things but it sure did and we’ll never forget it. The black community here even hang their head in shame and eyes filled with tears over the horror that these barbaric pieces of trash did what they did. God bless everyone and may Vanessa get what she truly deserves. By God’s will, she will sooner or later.

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