Home > Crime > Vanessa Coleman Trial – Day 6

Vanessa Coleman Trial – Day 6


Random thoughts…

As of Friday, we have heard from 51 witnesses presented during the Case in Chief!

Today we will hear from the prosecution’s final witness, Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan, ME.  Having seen Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan testify in the 3 other trials, I can assure you the testimony on the autopsies of Channon and Chris will be brutal, but presented in a highly professional manner.

I have no idea what the jury may be thinking, but wonder if they realize that Vanessa Coleman’s constant claim she heard and saw nothing is utterly impossible.  The house at 2316 Chipman was just a bit over 800 square feet and Vanessa even says she heard both Boyd whispering and Daphne talking in the living room while she was taking a shower!

I’m going out on a limb here with this opinion, but the 5/23/09 letter Coleman wrote to her parents included: telling her parents she gave Channon water, her hand touched Channon’s hand.  She also says she checked her pulse.  ‘I slept on floral sheets a couple of times.  I touched the book bag she was ‘binded’ with.  I used the bathroom a few times after she did.’

Am I the only one who thinks Vanessa was coached to write the letter to put out the notion this was how her DNA was found on Channon?  I mean why detail all of that to your parents – stick figure drawings included?  Perhaps, was it intended  it would show up during the trial?

I am clueless as to what in the world Mr. Lavit can even consider as a defense for his client and even though Nessa’s journal didn’t provide details of the atrocities committed, I’m betting the journal will do her in.

‘Fun’ and ‘adventure’ are not the descriptors any normal, feeling person would have chosen.  She instead came off as cold and inhuman and obviously, from her own words, was a participant!

Vanessa is brought in wearing a white, blue, black, and gray sweater and gray slacks.

9:03 The Judge takes the bench.

9: 06 The Jury is brought in.

Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan, ME is called to the stand.  She has an extensive and impressive CV. 

Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan said Newsom’s body was face up, badly charred and a belt bound his feet. “The body was subjected to high heat.”  Newsom’s upper body was more burned. His ankles weren’t burned, but they were charred. In fact, Newsom’s body was so charred, he was almost unrecognizable.

Hugh Newsom is hugging Mary and patting her shoulder.  Mary is crying, hanging and shaking her head.

Denna is crying and Gary is angrily rocking.

Coleman is hunched over with her head down!

She reports that Chris Newsom was repeatedly raped with a foreign object just an hour or two before he was killed. She described the condition of Newsom’s anal area as having tears and lots of bruising.

“This is not just a rape,” she said. “This is the blunt trauma where an object comes in contact and severely damages the tissue. The depth of the injury was so grave there was no way that just the regular rape could inflict this.”

He was then blindfolded, gagged by a sock being shoved in his mouth, arms tied behind his back, his bare feet bound and his head covered.  He was either led or dragged to a set of railroad tracks. He was shot in the back of the head, the neck, and the back, and his body set on fire.

Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan said the gunshot to Newsom’s head caused “instantaneous death.”  There was also blunt trauma to his head, perhaps from hitting the ground after being shot.

Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan used a mannequin and rods to show the trajectories of Newsom’s gunshot wounds.

She indicated Newsom’s stomach was empty, indicating he hadn’t eaten the night of his death.

Her findings are consistent with the state’s time line that Newsom was shot around 1:45 a.m. Sunday.

Channon Christian’s death came after hours of sexual torture, the ME testified. Christian suffered horrific injuries to her vagina, anus, and mouth. She was not only raped, but also savaged with ‘an object’.

Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan said Christian had tears, bruising and swelling in her vaginal and anal areas, as well as signs of blunt force trauma.

Deena and Kara, Channon’s best friend, are quietly, but audibly weeping.

She was not only brutally raped; she was then kicked repeatedly in the vaginal area. She also suffered blows to the head, bruising on her arms indicate she was grabbed by force and she had carpet burns on her back.  She also had hemorrhages on both sides of the top of her head.  They were severe, but not the cause of death.

A disturbance in the courtroom – a gentleman fainted during the testimony.

Bleach was poured down her throat.  This was while Christian was alive. She was then bound in a fetal position with curtains and strips of bedding so tightly her knees were touching her cheeks.   Her face was covered with a small white trash bag and her body placed inside five black trash bags before being placed inside a large trashcan and covered with sheets. Christian died slowly by asphyxia with her eyes open.

Christian was wearing only a sweatshirt and camisole.

What was interesting was during the autopsy testimony for Chris Newsom, Coleman was hunched over in her chair with her head down and at times with her hands over her eyes.  During the first few minutes of Channon’s autopsy testimony, she was sitting straight up watching the photos on the screen.  That just made me sick.

Then she hunched over and put her head down, put her hands over her ears and rocked in her seat and was crying. Remorse or great acting job?  Gee, wasn’t it a ‘Fun Adventure’?  I’m going with great acting job because she saw these photos during police interviews and they didn’t phase her a bit!

I cannot fathom the intensity of pain Chris and Channon experienced as they were savagely assaulted and only pray their minds shut down and they no longer could feel pain.

Most horrific to me is the mental and emotional pain they must have experienced as they drew their last breaths and their life forces flowed out of them.

I did not find Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan testimony any easier today than the 3 previous times.  Nor did I find it any easier to watch the anguish the parents were going through.

Witness passed.

Greene on cross

Let’s start with autopsy of Chris Newsom; it was conducted Jan 8?


You were at the scene and your office on the 8th?

No, my investigator was at the scene on the 7th.

Channon’s autopsy was on the 9th?


The tear from the tendon and the gum, can that be caused by a gag?

It could but, Chris had a gag and he didn’t have a similar injury.  This was some trauma that happened to the mouth.

Interesting that Greene is focusing on Channon being grabbed around the neck and her carotid arteries being cut off and Channon passing out which would have rendered her incapable of making any noises.

None of the cross-examine had much to do with scoring points for the defense.  The questions mostly deal with what the others did to Channon.

No more questions.

Jury wants to know if Channon would be making noises during this?

What she went through was very painful so I would thinks so.

The doctor is released.

The State rests!

Jury is sent to lunch while a bench hearing takes place.

Under Rule 29, Defense asks for acquittal saying the prosecution hasn’t proved their case, elements of the crime not shown, intent not shown.


Judge Baumgartner tells Lavit to stop offering his final argument.

Lavit says I’m not!

Judge says it sure sounds like you are and save it for the jury!

Leland Price says they haven proven their case.  Its up to the Jury to decide the extent her participation.

Judge rules so sad, too bad Mr. Lavit!

Dave Jennings of the US Attorney’s Office has arrived in court and a hearing in the Judge’s chambers is taking place. His testimony should resolve the immunity issue!

Nessa looks a bit shell-shocked after the 1/2-hour, in-chamber hearing!

The Judge says it’s been reported that Gary has made derogatory remarks to the Defense staff.

Gary loudly denies he ever spoke to them.

Lavit says he’s heard remarks as Gary passed him in the hall.

The Judge says the Defense is doing their job and it needs to be respected.

He knows this is painful and emotional.  He leaves it there.

First witness for the defense is Dave Jennings and he is called to the stand.

Lavit questions his background and asks about the immunity request form.

He has knowledge because he investigated the case beginning Jan 9 because Lemaricus Davidson was located.

He spoke to a US Marshall who wanted to obtain Davidson cell phone records.

The Federal case was begun because of the carjacking that is a Federal crime.

The immunity request form was initiated because all perpetrators were identified and they were all taken into custody.

Lavit – Vanessa wasn’t charged or indicted till the 31st. correct?

That is correct.

But the testimony was taken on the 17th?

Correct.  This was a complex, monstrous case and we met every night asking, what do we know now and what do we still need to know.

We had 7 people in some form or fashion that witnessed what happened.  Chris and Channon were two and that leaves five.  Davidson, Cobbins, Thomas, Boyd, and Coleman.

The Judge warns Lavit to only ask one question at a time.

I absolutely cannot stomach Lavit’s aggressive demeanor.

There was an immunity request form prepared in case she took her 5th amendment rights?

Yes sir.

Lavit asks if the copy of the request he is shown is a true approved copy.

Jennings says if that’s what the court indicates.

Jennings tells the court the ONLY jurisdiction the US Attorneys is the carjacking.  The rape, kidnap, torture, and murders are state jurisdiction.

There was no evidence in those first few days that Vanessa had caused injury to Chris and Channon so we kept the option open to be a witness to the Federal case.  The immunity request was nothing but an option they kept open.

Lavit – you were prepared to give her immunity?

We prepared an option, but she wasn’t telling the truth.

Lavit is so out of control, basically calling Jennings a liar.  Lavit is screaming at Jennings!

Again, the Judge warns Lavit to ask one question at a time.

Lavit wants Jennings to read 6 pages of the immunity request and the Judge asks why when the Jury has the transcript?

Lavit says because the Prosecution had their reports read out loud to the jury.

The Judges asks if that’s the only reason.

No, you Honor, I will be asking questions during this!

Lavit trys to get Jennings to read several paragraphs that have been redacted!!!!

Ok, this all boils down to the procedure that these documents are prepared in case they are needed, not necessarily that they will be implemented.

Lavit’s continued harping and badgering is becoming his downfall, methinks!  I’m sorry; this has nada to do with a defense of Miss Nessie!

I just recalled Ritanita’s statement about Lavit – defense by confusion!

Witness passed to Leland Price.

He carefully leads the Jury through the reasoning behind the thought process of why the document was prepared and established the sign-off on the 16th…one week after the crimes.

It was based on the Feds thinking they might be prosecuting the ENTIRE case.

Coleman was present at Chipman Street and they were enacting the statutes set forth by the US Attorney’s office as to the procedures that needed to be followed.

Jennings says immunity doesn’t mean immune from prosecution, but just that testimony would not been used against her.

They offer was never enacted!

You believed Coleman had culpability?


Judge Baumgartner says objection is on the record!!!!

Well done, Mr. Price!!!!

Price has Jennings list the number of locations where evidence had been collected.

Jennings lists 5.

Did you form an opinion at the time about Ms. Coleman’s culpability?

No, it was too large.

After the testimony I believed she lied under oath.

Did you consider offering her immunity?

No, not then!

What did she lie about?

That she never saw Chris brought in the house.  I believed she lied for her boyfriend, Cobbins.  She never saw Boyd.  She lied about a bunch of stuff.

Did you believe her about Daphne Sutton’s presence in the house?


Did you believe Daphne had participated in the crimes?

No, I never believed Daphne Sutton knew what was going on!

Were you involved with the State decision to charge Coleman and the four men?

No, in no way!

The Federal case was dropped and no charges were brought against the remaining 4 suspects.  It was left to the State of Tennessee.

Again, well done Mr. Price!

Lavit is back up screeching again.

Please, I’m begging…Gag him.

OMG!  Lavit calls Nessa…’this little girl’.

Jennings gives a litany of Nessa’s lies.

You have any evidence Chris was in the house?  (Cobbins’ testimony said that Chris and Channon were brought into the house together.)

Yes, the statements of the convicted criminals.

Oh, you believe killers?

I’m waiting for Judge Baumgartner’s head to do a Linda Blair and spin 360’s.

Baumgartner tries to shut Lavit down, but doesn’t go that far.  He is now holding his head.  He is exhibiting amazing restraint!

Hey, are you as miffed as I am that my taxpayer dollars are being spent to have a US Federal Attorney abused in this manner?

Jury questions lead to why the immunity request was repaired and Jennings effectively cleared that up.

Jennings is excused at last!

Lavit calls Sarah ‘Aja’ Coleman to the stand – Vanessa’s sister.

You recall Jan 12 2007?

My mother came over to the house and got clothes and we went to Natosha Hayes’s house.

Who went into the house?  Me and my sister.

Did you go into the laundry room?


Did she bring anything into the room?

No sir.

What did you do?

Vanessa grabbed an armful of clothes and put it into a small white basket.

We left the house and put the white basket in the van.

Did Vanessa ever handle a gun?

No sir.

Fitzgerald on cross.

Did you testify in front of the Grand Jury?


Who was she living with at the time?

I don’t know.

Aja has no clue where Vanessa was living with or with whom?

Aja lives at another house with her boyfriend.

Ok, this coupled with, we also know that Vanessa spent Christmas day, 2006 with Natosha…how close is this family unit?

Aja is a bit combative with the Prosecution and in my opinion more than well rehearsed!

She spoke with Vanessa, maybe once a week.

Takisha shows Aja the letter and the journal.  She recognizes the letter to her parents, but not the journal.

She identifies a few items from Nessa’s red purse as well as the purse itself.

Aja says her and Vanessa and Mom arrive at Natosha’s.

She and Vanessa entered the house to get her clothes.

Now we have an issue if the basket was white or green or a pink backpack per prior statements she made.

Seems prior statements made by Aja were not consistent!

The family that lies together…stays together!

Lavit is trying to rehabilitate Aja’s testimony!

Judge calls the end to day – we are close to being done.  Sounds like Coleman and parents will be the only other witnesses and the instructions will be read tomorrow and the jury will get the case!!!

Baumgartner asks Coleman whether or not she wants to testify and asks to ascertain she is doing this under freewill.

She keeps nodding in the affirmative.

I deeply apologize for the level of sarcasm I exhibited today.  This was probably the most acrimonious day of testimony I have ever witnessed in all the years of trial watching I’ve followed.

I realize my perceived notion of Lavit’s obnoxiousness caused me to lose my objectivity.  I’m pretty sure in the morning I really won’t feel differently!  I just wanted to scream at Lavit…’you can’t handle the truth!’

Published with all it’s warts and blemishes!

  1. ritanita
    05/10/2010 at 7:34 pm

    Thanks for the coverage. I was busy with Ms. Anthony’s hearing and rapidly taking notes. When it was over, I tuned in to the end of the ME’s testimony. While listening, I typed up my article!

    Between Mr. Lavit and his twisting and turning the facts and the efforts of writing, I have ONE BIG HEADACHE!

    I’m going to have to suffer another hearing tomorrow and I was so hoping I’d catch Vanessa testifying.

    After that little speech the judge gave her, I’m wondering if she will decide not to testify! That leaves Lavit with very little defense, for sure. You have Jennings (who was great for the prosecution), and Aja, the “snotty” sister.


  2. David From TN
    05/10/2010 at 10:48 pm

    I wonder how Vanessa’s testimony is going to be. She can be impeached with about anything she says. Her defense boils down to hoping some jurors feel sorry for her.

    I am looking forward to TK’s closing argument. In a case like this the closing usually seals it. She was great in the Davidson and Thomas trials.

    It would be nice if the judge, in his jury instructions, tells the jury that the only issue is the proof regarding Vanessa Coleman. Also, to get over Daphne Sutton.

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