Home > Crime > Vanessa Coleman Trial – Day 3

Vanessa Coleman Trial – Day 3


Deena and Gary Christian listen to testimony on day 2 of the trial

Random thoughts…

We are keeping up a brisk pace with the witness testimony.  On day one, 11 witnesses were heard.  Day 2 we had a total of 16 witnesses.

Yesterday I indicated we would see two phases of the trial – the appetizers and the meat and potatoes.  Once we finished with testimony of law enforcement and crossed over to the civilian testimony we got to the entrée!  The whole mood in the courtroom changed.

Prosecution – spent a great deal of time having Deena Christian go through evidence from Channon’s grey purse, found at Chipman Street and Vanessa’s red purse, found in Kentucky.

Takisha Fitzgerald looks on as Deena Christian identifies her daughter's belongings found in Vanessa Coleman's purse

What was startling and very visual was several of Channon’s belongings were in Vanessa’s purse.  Pretty hard to refute even though the defense wants the jury to believe that Lemaricus Davidson gave those items to Nessie as gifts and she had ‘no idea’ they came from Channon.

Defense – has been very docile until late yesterday.  When we got to the testimony of Daphne Sutton’s (Davidson’s girlfriend) friends, the Defense began to push the witnesses trying to get them to say they had first-hand knowledge or had been told by Daphne that Davidson was violent and possessed guns.  None of Daphne’s friends went down that path!

Remember, the Defense has always maintained they had no intention to dispute the crimes committed by Davidson, Cobbins, Thomas, and Boyd.

They want the jury to believe that Nessie was just a young, innocent 18-year old who got caught up in a situation.  She had no idea that she was hanging with violent thugs.  She had no idea about Chris Newsom and what had been done to him.  As Channon was repeatedly and savagely raped she had no idea that was going on and heard nothing during those days even the house was a mere 900 square feet!  She had guns pulled on her and she was terrified and felt she was a hostage in 2316 Chipman Street.

In her defense, the poor, frightened hostage did at some point, out of kindness and concern, sneak a bit of water to Channon – but still had no clue what was being done physically to Channon!

Vanessa is brought in.  Today she is wearing a white blouse with a light blue T underneath.

Important housekeeping item…

The Federal immunity issue is brought up and the Judge seeks to allow Lavit to question ATF Agent Waggoner, but only if Waggoner was fully aware of the offer.

Lavit says Waggoner was the direct link to Federal Agent Whittle who agreed to the request for immunity being drafted, but insists it was done with State’s knowledge.

The Prosecution says they were never contacted.  Lavit says the State knew.

This seems to be the fly in the ointment and the Defense may not have done the necessary preparation.  To subpoena a Federal agent would take weeks if not months.

9:13 the jury enters.

Case in Chief continues…

The morning starts with Daphne Sutton being called by the prosecution.  She was Davidson’s girlfriend.

Daphne Sutton

She knew Cobbins.  She saw Cobbins, Thomas, and Coleman in December 2006 when they came down to live at Davidson’s because Daphne had moved out after fighting with Davidson.  Stacey Lawson drove them down from Kentucky.

Daphne testifies that Davidson would manhandle her and they argued frequently.  Davidson only manhandled her in the bedroom, not in front of the others.

Jan.5 Daphne left 2316 Chipman for good because Davidson put his hands around her throat.  Kassie and Brandi came and picked her up and she lived with them for a while.

Daphne says the house was so small you could hear anything that went on in any room of the house.

Jan. 7th, she went back to 2316 Chipman to get her makeup and other things.  She entered the house and tried to go to the bathroom, but Davidson block her path.  She asked if Vanessa was in the bathroom.  She never saw Vanessa, but heard what sounded like something fell into the sink.

She indicates where Thomas and Cobbins were sitting and says they didn’t speak to her which was unusual.

Davidson gave Daphne a bag of clothing and 5-10 dollars.

Nobody in the house worked so the money was unusual.

Davidson was the only one in the house that had a cell phone.

Back at Kassie and Brandi’s apartment, they went through the clothes.  There was a red skirt, jeans, a couple blouses.

She called Davidson and said these were used cloths and were to big for her and wanted to know why he said they were new.  She asked Davidson pick up the bag of clothes.

Davidson arrived in the 4-Runner and picked up the bag.  Daphne saw the stickers that Channon had on her vehicle.  She never saw Davidson in the 4-Runner.

Daphne and Davidson made up so Daphne went to Chipman and picked him up.  He stayed over at Kassie’s on Sunday.  She saw Davidson was wearing new shoes that appeared small.

On Monday they shopped at Target, did laundry then went to the house.

On Tuesday Daphne’s mom called.  Daphne asked Davidson what he had done and then told him he had to leave.  That evening they took him to the park by Ridgebrook Apartments.

Daphne says Davidson had a black and brown gun in his jacket pocket.

The US Marshals contacted Daphne and took her to the police department for questioning.  Daphne admits not telling the truth that day because she was scared.  She finally told the truth the next day.

Daphne identifies physical evidence for Fitzgerald – clothing, the gun, and sneakers.  She also identifies the pink curtains as well as floral bedroom set that Lynn Freeman gave them – the materials used to bind Chris and Channon.

The camera panned to Vanessa during Daphne’s testimony and she made a frown and turned to speak to a defense member.

From the look on Vanessa’s face, there in no love lost between her and Daphne.

They play the video taken at the house and Daphne points out items that seem out of place.

Remember, the video was taken after Daphne moved out for good.

Daphne explains about Davidson’s cell phone.  It was a minute phone meaning that when you ran out of minutes you could not make or receive calls until you bought more minutes.

Lavit asks Daphne about High School and the friends that worked at Sonic with her.  Taylor, Cassie, and Kayla.  They met Davidson through her.

Daphne corrects Lavit when he refers to Chipman as Davidson’s house – she strongly advises it was ‘their’ house and both their names were on the lease.

Lavit asks if Davidson put his hands on ant of here friends.

Lavit asks why she thought Vanessa was moving down here when she only had a 2 small bags.

Daphne said she knew there was a warrant against Vanessa.

Lavit get very loud and nasty with Daphne and keeps speaking over Daphne as she tries to answer.

The Judge tells him to stop arguing with the witness.

He asks if she was familiar with house.  Yes.

What was the back bedroom like?  There was an air mattress and she doesn’t know if they used sheets.

Did you testify before the Grand Jury?  Yes.

Didn’t you tell the Grand Jury there was a comforter on the bed?  If it’s on there I may have.

Didn’t you say it was floral?  I don’t recall, but if it’s on there I must have.

Lavit tries to get Daphne to say Cobbins and Coleman slept on the floral bed set.  Daphne says she cannot tell the Jury that because she doesn’t know.

Lavit now insinuates she testified before the Grand Jury 10 days after the murder and had a much sharper memory then as opposed to today.

Lavit brings up the Grand Jury testimony that Davidson pulled a gun on her.  She agrees he did put the gun in her face.

From the bumbling presentation of opening statements by Lavit, he is suddenly loud and aggressive with Daphne.

He gets Daphne to admit Davidson had a temper.

He also gets her to say that she really couldn’t hear everything in the house if the TV was turned up loud.

Gary and Chase Christian appear to be getting upset with the line of questioning.

Lavit is trying very hard to put words in Daphne’s mouth and she is beginning to get annoyed and slightly flustered.

Lavit has gotten Daphne to admit she was afraid because Davidson was still out and she didn’t know what he might do.

Lavit asks if she or her friends were charged with rape, murder, kidnapping.  She answers no.

Gary got up and left the courtroom!

He asks if she called police after dropping Davidson off.  She said she was trying to decide what do and the police called her.

Jury questions

If Davidson had a short fuse, why did you keep going back?

I was young, dumb, I was on drugs, thought I was in love.

How did you know Vanessa was in the bathroom when you did not see her?

I cannot say what I was told.

Daphne breaks down in tears.  She apologizes for getting frustrated.

Mercifully, Daphne is allowed to step down.  Lavit’s cross was brutal and painful.  Daphne held up well despite the contentiousness of the morning.

It appeared as court went to break Judge Baumgartner was giving Lavit instructions on cross-examination 101!

Opinion… by my good friend ritanita and me

Considering Lavit and Greene requested and obtained transcripts from the three previous trials and had 3 years to prep for this trial it sure as hell seems they know very little of the case or the facts.

Lavit’s repeated attempts to elicit heresay are appalling.

He has pushed Takisha Fitzgerald and Judge Baumgartner’s buttons which isn’t endearing himself to the jury, I would think.

Remember, Lavit was hired by Coleman’s parents!

Jodie Long is on the stand.  She drove Thomas, Cobbins, and Coleman back to Kentucky on the eighth because Vince Wernamont— asked her to for some money and drugs.

She identifies Vanessa as a passenger.  They smoked 2 ‘blunts’ – joints on the way up.

When she returned to Knoxville she saw the reports about Chris and Channon on TV and recognized Vanessa.

This was done out of the presence of the jury.  Jody is currently incarcerated for accessory.

Baumgartner wants the dope smoking left out.  If Coleman takes the stand, the prosecution can have a field day with the drug usage as it goes to Vanessa partying proves she was not a hostage!

To date, the rampant drug use and drug dealing has been kept out of the trial because the defense claims it is prejudicial to their case.

Back in front of the jury, Long testifies the same with the exception of smoking ‘blunt’.

Lavit on cross.

You said Vanessa was quiet on the ride?  Yes

At no time was she out of the company of Thomas and Cobbins?  No

Did you ever see Ms. Coleman with a gun?  No

You drove back the next day?  No, that night.

You found out about the deaths of Channon and Chris?  Just Chris.

Were you charged with any in this case?  No…not immediately.

You never spoke to police for a year?  Correct.  She waited for a year because she was afraid.

Long steps down and the Judge instructs that she be held here for a week in case she is needed for more testimony.

Housekeeping issue

Dave Jennings of the US Attorney’s Office is willing to testify about the immunity issue, but he has to be served.  It normally takes a few week turn-around, but they can expedite.  Lavit says it should be done in a few hours.  Baumgartner will make a call if need be to make the Feds understand we have an out-of-town jury.

Baumgartner says if the defense wishes to sue him in Federal Court it will be on their dime not the State’s.

Case in Chief resumes…

The Prosecution calls Charles Lee to the stand.  Knoxville PD Major Crime Unit Investigator.  He retrieved Channon’s jeans from Brandi.  They were taken to the property unit on Jan. 10.

No questions from the defense.

Next up is Russell Byrd.  He works form Comcast and is the Custodian of Records.  He will testify about the12/26 through 1/7/07 phone records of Ethel Freeman.

Kelly Lawson is on the stand.  She works for AT&T Mobile and has phone records for Mary Macattie, user is Stacey Lawson of Kentucky from 12/27/06 through 1/4/07.

Calls to her phone would not show on her record.

Lavit wants to know the relationship between Macattie and Lawson.  Kelly Lawson says she has no idea.

Chris Massengill on the stand.  Custodian of Records, Mobile to Mobile – Chris Newsom’s mobile phone was used on 1/7 in the early morning.

No questions from the defense.

Eric Tyrell called.  Custodian of Records for Sprint, Lemaricus Davidson’s cell phone.  The phone is pre-paid for minutes.  Numerous ingoing and outgoing calls were made Jan. 7.  Call inbound on the 8th at 2:01 am.  Call out at 7:50 pm to same number.

No questions from Defense.

Next, Adam McChesney, Custodian of Records for US Cellular.  This relates to Channon’s  phone. Jan. 2006 to Feb. 2007

No questions from defense.

Isaac Indi – US Cellular  Radio Frequency Engineer.  This is basically about Channon’s phone.

Yikes! Truthfully, this is going so fast and phone numbers are be rattled of so quickly and I honestly cannot follow and stopped transcribing it.  Sorry!

Randal Nelson is called.  He works at TBI in forensic microanalysis.

He examined Channon’s white tank top to identify the stain on it.  His report is entered into evidence.

The result of the analysis indicated bleach on the neck and down the side.

He identifies the tank top shown to him by Price.

Lavit says the evidence is a camisole.

Price indicates sometimes it is referred to as a tank top and sometimes as a camisole.

Lavit says, “well, her mother calls it a camisole”.

Baumgartner asks him if he has any questions.

Defense has no questions.

Next on the stand is Gerald Smith – Knoxville PD Forensic Crime Scene Unit.  Thursday Jan. 11 he responded to 1800 Reynolds Avenue.  This is where Davidson was hiding and was eventually arrested at.  The house had a For Sale signs and was empty.

The house was basically down the street from Ridgebrook, where Daphne dropped Davidson off.

Smith photographed the house and collected some items of evidence – Chris’s Nike Shock sneakers, a 22-caliber revolver in a hooded sweatshirt.  He then took them to the property room.

Smith identifies photos that he took in the house.

In the room Davidson was hiding in he found a cell phone, a charger, binoculars.

Defense has no questions.

Stacey Lawson is called – she was George, ‘G’ Thomas’ girlfriend.  Jan. 2007 she lived in Kentucky.  She was friends with Vanessa and Cobbins, ‘Rome’.  She knew Davidson, ‘Slim’ and Cobbins brother.  She was friends with Natosha, also known as Blue.  She had been to Knoxville 3 times with Cobbins.  She was in Knoxville Dec 1 2006 the first time. And stayed at 2316 Chipman and returned home on the 2nd.

The 2nd trip was mid December same people with a few extra folks.

The last trip was on Dec 28 and she left Knoxville on Jan 2.  It was Cobbins, Coleman, and Thomas and Stacey.  Daphne had moved out by then.

Nobody was working at the time.  Stacey says she and Davidson had cell phones.  She doesn’t remember if Vanessa had one.

She slept in the living room on a blanket as most of the furniture was gone by that time.

She saw a silver as well as a dark revolver and also a rifle.

The silver revolver was Cobbins’ and the dark one was Davidson’s.  The rifle also belonged to Davidson.

On New Years Eve, she fired the dark revolver once.  She never saw Vanessa handle a gun.  Davidson pulled a rifle and pointed at her face.  She left the next day because of the incident.

She told Vanessa, Cobbins and Thomas they could have a ride back to Lebanon.

Vanessa was looking for a job in Knoxville.

Nobody tried to stop Stacey from leaving.

The next time she saw them was on the 10th at Natosha Haye’s house.  Thomas, Coleman, and Cobbins called her.

She arrived there around 4pm and thought they looked scared.

No one would tell her what happened.  Stacey asked when they got back and Vanessa said what are you talking about, I came back with you!

Vanessa never said she was afraid of Thomas or Cobbins, nor did she ask Stacey for help.

On Natosha’s computer she saw the Knoxville News site about Cobbins and Thomas wanted for murder and carjacking that Thomas had been looking at.

The next time she saw them was at the police station the next day.

Lawson says she never saw any guns at Natosha’s house.

Pass the witness.

Greene asks if she saw guns on previous trips to Chipman.  She says yes.

He trys to get her to say the silver revolver never left Lebanon.  She says she doesn’t know.

Well, you were in the car for 4 hours, surely you would have seen it.  Lawson says she doesn’t know if it was in the car.

Cobbins didn’t want Vanessa to leave Lebanon, did he?  I don’t know that.

When you left on the 2nd, you left because you had a hearing?  No.

You have children?  One.

That was another reason you left?  Yes.

She remembers a flower print – maybe a sheet or a mattress- on the bed Vanessa and Cobbins slept in.

Greene shows her some of the floral fabric and she said it might be it.

How much luggage did Vanessa have?  I don’t know.

But Vanessa didn’t have a whole lot?  I guess not.

Greene asks Stacey if she told the Grand Jury that Vanessa came back to Lebanon on the 2nd.  No.

You didn’t say she came back with you?  No, I never said that at anytime.

Jury question – they had the sound off for the question!

Natosha Hayes is called to the stand.  This is where Cobbins, Coleman and Thomas stayed when they ran from Knoxville.

Notasha and her daughter lived there.  She was friends with Vanessa and Cobbins introduced them.

She is known as Blue, Cobbins as Rome and Thomas as G.  They all met as temp working at Amazon.

She knows Stacey from friends.

She went to Chipman Street in the middle of December with a bunch of people including Stacey and Thomas.

She knew that Stacey, Cobbins, Coleman, and Thomas left December 28 for Knoxville.  She understood they were going there to live.

They next time she saw Cobbins, Coleman, and Thomas was on a Tuesday or Wednesday and then they were arrested.

The day they got back, they asked if the could stay at her house.

Were they upset?  No

Was anybody afraid?  No not at first.

Thomas came upstairs and asked to use the computer.

She doesn’t recall ever being alone with Vanessa, but a lot of people were in and out of the house.

Did you ever see a gun?  No, but she did see Thomas with some coins and small bullets on the table.

Vanessa and Cobbins stayed in the laundry room that had a bed and dresser.  Thomas slept on the couch.

The phone rang and an aggressive voice said she needed to come outside.  She didn’t know it was police till she went outside.  Then they brought out Thomas, Cobbins, and Coleman.

She allowed the police to search her house. That night she slept over at a friend’s house because the door was ajar.

The next morning she returned home and her friend Jennifer came over to help clean the house.  Vanessa, her mother and her sister showed up.  Vanessa said she needed to pick some things up.

Natosha doesn’t know if she carried anything in the house.  She came out with tennis shoes.

Jennifer started cleaning the room that Cobbins and Vanessa stayed and found a box under the bed that contained a gun.

She is shown the silver revolver and identifies it.

Witness passed.

Lavit asks if she was brought to the police station.  She says yes.

Were you arrested?  No.

Did you see Vanessa, Thomas and Cobbins at the police station?  There were different rooms there.

You and Vanessa were released?  Yes.

What time?  I don’t know, it was dark.

How long did they search your house?  They were there a while.

Had anybody had been to your home?  The door was ajar, but I don’t know if anybody had been there.

You don’t know if anyone brought anything into your house?  I don’t know.

When Vanessa left your house on the 12th, did she leave with a basket of clothes?  I remember she left with sneakers.

Lavit has been pretty aggressive with Natosha.

Jury question

What day were you cleaning the house?  The day after the police searched the house, but I don’t know the exact date.

Price shows her a calendar.  She now agrees it was Friday.

Lavit  The door to your house open a long time?  I don’t know how long it was open.

Natosha is released.

Jennifer Allen is called.  She is a good friend of Natosha and found the gun under the bed.

She had met Vanessa a few times. She knew of ‘G’ and ‘Rome’.

She had not been at the house when the police were there.  She says her brother gave Natosha a ride to a friend’s house Thursday night.  On Friday she went to the house to help clean.  The house wasn’t too badly torn up except the laundry room.

She recalls Vanessa, her sister and her mother arriving.  She said Vanessa went in the house.  She didn’t carry anything in.  She had her hand in the hoodie pocket.  She said she needed to get some clothes.

She called her sister into the house?  Yes.

What about her mother?  No.

Did Vanessa come out of the house with any clothes? No.

Did you find anything in the house that you weren’t expecting?  Yes, a box under the bed that had a gun.

She and Natosha called the police.

Jennifer identifies the gun in evidence.

Pass the witness

Lavit  is trying to imply that because she read a copy of her Grand Jury testimony – given to her by Takisha Fitzgerald – she was basically not answering honestly off the top of her head.

Have you discussed the events with Natasha Hayes?  No.

Lavit is hammering on her statement that Vanessa had a hand in her pocket and says were you suspicious?  No, it was just an observation.

Did she indicate she wanted to collect clothes?  Yes, that’s what she said when she knocked on the door.

Did you know the door to her house was open and Natosha was scared to sty there that night before?  No.

Ok, have to say it – Lavit is obnoxious in his cross of witnesses!

Les Moses is called to the stand.  He is a State Trooper from Kentucky.

On Friday, Jan 12, he collected the gun found in Natosha Hayes house.  He photographed the gun and collected it and let ATF Agent Waggoner know he had it.  Waggoner came and took custody of the gun.

No defense questions.

Patricia Resig is called.  Firearms examiner with Knoxville PD forensics.  She is accepted as an expert witness.

She examined 2 revolvers and the carbine rifle.  She also examined ammunition.

She test fired the rifle and found no matches.  The rifle bullets were not connected to Newsom’s autopsy.

She identifies both handguns.

The bullets fired from the Clerk revolver that belonged to Cobbins weren’t conclusive in class characteristics to the bullets from Chris’s autopsy.  But she can’t eliminate the gun with 100% certainty.

The 22 that belonged to Davidson was fired and again the results weren’t conclusive in class characteristics to the bullets from Chris’s autopsy.  But she can’t eliminate the gun with 100% certainty.

Resig identifies her official report and it is moved as an exhibit.

The bullets from Chris’s back and right neck that may have come from the 22 long revolver or from another gun.

The bullet from Chris’s head was too damaged from impact to identify which gun it was fired from.

Resig did a crime scene sketches and measurements of the individual rooms which she details for the jury.

Total square footage is 825 feet.  The house dimensions are taped off in the courtroom for visual effect.

It is said a picture is worth a thousand words and this visual is pretty amazing.

Resig is at the furthest part of the demonstration from the jury and Fitzgerald has her say, Stop, Stop, Don’t.

Lavit wants to know if either revolver shot the bullets into Chris.  She said no.

Did the silver gun make the pop, pop, pop?  It’s doubtful the silver gun could because the cylinder had to be advance manually often.

Chances are the brown and black revolver may be able because the cylinder advanced properly.

Did you rehearse saying Stop, Stop, Don’t?  No.

Have you said it before?  Once, earlier this week.

Was a radio or television on when you did it?  No sir.

Court is ended for today at  5:34

It has been an exhausting three days of testimony and having watched the previous trials and none of the information is new!

OMG!!!! Best line of the day provided by ritanita –  Lavit, defense by confusion!

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