Home > Crime > Vanessa Coleman Trial – Day 7

Vanessa Coleman Trial – Day 7


Random thoughts…

Well, yesterday turned out to be quite a day!

Mr. Lavit, in my opinion, crossed the line several times during cross of Dave Jennings.  I do believe though the immunity issue should be clear in everyone’s minds – it was never, in any way, discussed with ‘this little girl’ Vanessa.  It is SOP to draw up an immunity request IN CASE IT IS NEEDED!

The Daphne Sutton issue is still a sticking point in my mind and hopefully when Judge Baumgartner charges the Jury he will make mention of the fact this case has nothing to do with Daphne and the Jury should disregard it.  And, I hope Ms. Fitzgerald also hammers that home in closing arguments.

If I am correct Linda and Gregg Coleman will be the next witnesses and unless she changed her mind overnight, Nessa will take the stand.  Nessa taking the stand is crazy in my opinion as she leaves herself open to impeachment on anything and everything.  It’s like giving the State the green light to ‘chew her up and spit her out’!

I’m wondering how Nessa will dress for court today if she really is taking the stand today.  Will she sport a ‘this little girl’ look as Mr. Lavit likes to portray her?

Keep in mind; much of Nessa’s defense strategy mimics that of her boyfriend, Letalvis Cobbins.

My prediction is that the Jury will begin deliberations tomorrow morning if Coleman actually takes the stand today.  We shall see!

Vanessa comes in wearing a pink blouse and black slacks.  She has a smile for her lawyers.

9:06 Judge Baumgartner takes the bench.

Housekeeping issues on the charges.

Price wants the charge changed to ‘anal penetration’ because the ME didn’t address multiple penetrations by an object.  So, this charge will be a bit different from the previous 3 trials.

Lavit doesn’t even want the charge included.

Judge rules with Price.

Judge hasn’t ruled on the immunity issue, but will rule this morning.  He wants it included.

Lavit objects.

Judge Baumgartner will include it in the charges.

He asks Nessa if she will be taking the stand.  Holy cow!  She decided not to testify!

9:16 The Jury enters.

Greg Coleman, Nessa’s father is called to the stand.

Lavit wants to know if he was present at the Grand Jury testimony.

Yes, he was here to support his daughter.  Linda and Aja were also present.

He was not present for the first and second interviews by ATF Agent Waggoner.

Did you stay the night?

Yes, we had to be here for a subpoena.

The subpoena was for the Grand Jury, not for the State on Thursday, Jan 18th.  You met with law enforcement, correct?


Was anybody under arrest at this point?


Lavit asks about when he and Nessa drove around pointing out specific locations.

Were the officers in the car treating her politely?


Was Vanessa cooperating?

Yes, I told her to tell the truth.

When you returned was there another interview?


What did they tell her?

That they didn’t think she had told them everything and she told them she told them everything she could think of.

Did they believe her?

Not in my opinion.

Did you stay over another night?

Yes, they wanted to talk to Vanessa in the morning.

Did they ever ask her about the red purse?

No, sir.

Did they ask about the journal and why she wrote this or wrote that?

No, sir.

Did the give her back her drivers license?


Other items from the red purse?

I don’t know nothing about a red purse.

Now we go through Waggoner called and said that word had gotten out that Vanessa was identified as a witness.

Coleman says Waggoner said he want to protect Vanessa as a State witness.

What was Vanessa’s attitude about this?

She was scared.

Did she say why she was afraid?

Price objects – bench conference.

Vanessa told her father she was afraid because there was a gang here and something could happen to her.

Did you come back to Knoxville with her?

No, the next day, Thursday Vanessa and her mother came back to Knoxville with the police.

Greg got a call from his wife on Saturday the 27th.

Greg picked up Vanessa and Linda at 2:30.  They went back to Kentucky.

What did Vanessa say?

She was afraid.

What happened in Knoxville that made her scared?

They heard people going up and down the hallway, shouting and throwing rocks at the window.  Vanessa didn’t think they were protected because no one was with them at the hotel.

Were you present at the last interview on the 31st?

No, they came to my house and surrounded it.

Did you think that was strange?

Yes, the police presence seemed strange if they only wanted to talk to her.

Coleman gave them directions to the Pizza Hut where Vanessa was working.

When Vanessa was at Chipman Street did she tell you why she cooked breakfast?

She was made to.

Now Lavit gets him to say Vanessa told him there was always loud music and television going.

Pass the witness.

Price asks where he works.

He works as a supervisor in a prison kitchen.

Do you love your daughter very much?


Would you do anything to protect her?

Yes, but not to break the law.

You weren’t here on the weekend of the carjacking and when Channon’s body was found?


Did your daughter tell you she witnessed a murder?

No, she never told me that.

Did she tell you she lied to police about being there that weekend?


You didn’t know she was in Knoxville?

No, I didn’t know she was out of town.

Did she tell about a cut foot or ankle?


Did she tell you she hurt her head?


When was the last time you spoke to her before she came to Knoxville?

I don’t know that date.

Was it before Christmas?

I don’t know.

Did you see her on Christmas?


Do you believe Vanessa was telling the truth about the weekend of the carjacking?

Yes, I believe she was.

But you weren’t here that weekend so how do you know what the truth was?

I wasn’t here.

When she came back to Kentucky, did she stay with you?

No, she stayed with friends.

Do you know which friends?


These parents have no clue about where their kids are or what they are doing or the unsavory characters they hooked up with!

No more questions.

Lavit is back up.

He gets Greg to say they are Jehovah Witnesses to refute the question of them not seeing her at Christmas, however Greg added that was not the specific reason – she wanted to be with her friends.

After the 9th of January when Vanessa returned were you aware she stayed with cousins?


When did you know she stayed with cousins?

I don’t know that she stayed there.

Coleman says he believed police indicated she would not be prosecuted.

Price asks

Did anyone tell you she was immune to prosecution?

They wanted to use her as a witness.

Lavit asks

Is that why you believed she would not be prosecuted?


Greg Coleman steps down after just about an hour on the stand.

Lavit tells the Judge the next witness will be about that long on the stand.

Linda Coleman is up next.

Lavit asks if Vanessa had money when she went to Knoxville?

Yes she had her paycheck and Christmas money.

When did you learn she was in Knoxville?

New Years Eve.

Do you know why she was cooking at Chipman Street? 

She was made to cook.

Linda claims Vanessa told her she had a knot on her head and it was hurting her real bad so she made a doctor appointment.  Linda also said Vanessa showed her a scratch on the back of her ankle and said Rome had thrown her against a wall.

How did Linda know all of this and Greg didn’t?

This 6-page letter you received, why was it sent to you?

She tells everything she saw in Knoxville and she wanted it given to her lawyer.

So why did you receive it?

She wanted you to have it and she didn’t have your address.

Was it marked legal information?

It might have been on the back of the envelope.

Linda says she and Aja also received subpoena to testify on the 17th along with Vanessa.

Did you testify before the Grand Jury?


Did Waggoner speak with you about Vanessa?

Yes, he felt she wasn’t being forthcoming.

Did you speak with your daughter?

Yes, I told her to tell the truth.

What did she say?

She said she was really scared because she saw some very bad things that they did, then she broke down.

What do you mean she broke down?

She just started crying really, really hard.

Linda claims Waggoner told her they only wanted to use Vanessa as a witness for the State to put those men away and she wouldn’t be prosecuted.

She goes through the whole deal of staying at the hotel under protective custody.

I find it interesting the Linda starts answering questions before Lavit finishes asking them.

She goes through the numerous interviews that Vanessa gave.  She admits everyone treated Vanessa cordially.

Linda talks sweetly but it’s apparent where Nessa and Aja get their major attitudes.

Vanessa sold her mother a bill of goods about being held hostage in Knoxville and how she was always being watched.

Pass the witness.

Fitzgerald asks where Vanessa was living in December?

Campbellsville for two weeks and then she came to live at Natosha’s.

Before Campbellsville?

Here and there, with friends and relatives.

Did she call you when she was in she was in Knoxville?


Did she indicate she was scared?

No, she wished me Happy New Year and said she would be home in a few days.

She never said she was scared?

No, but the TV and music were so loud.

On January 2nd, did she speak with you?


She never told you a rifle was pushed in Stacey Lawson face?

No, maybe she didn’t have a phone.

Mama has gotten pretty testy!  Her answers have gone from yes ma’am, no ma’am to yup, nope.

Did she ever tell you she was held hostage?


By whom?


Mr. Davidson?


Bench conference –

May there be things Vanessa never told you?


She had money and could have gone to the store and called you?


Fitzgerald takes Linda through 2 people were brought in the house blindfolded.  She never called you about it?


Did she call you to tell you she just saw a girl raped in the house?


If she did, would you have gone to get her?


Linda is in defensive mode and has her arms crossed over her chest.

Takisha is making mincemeat out of Linda!

I have counted at least 2 cases of contradiction in testimony from Lavit’s questioning to Takisha’s questioning!

Fitzgerald takes Linda through the various interviews Vanessa gave.

Takisha shows Linda the red purse.  She’s never seen it before.

Takisha then shows her the contents of the purse.  She doesn’t recognize any of it.


Did Vanessa have a phone while she was in Knoxville?


Did she tell you she couldn’t use Davidson’s phone?


She had no access to a phone while she was at that house?


So she couldn’t have contacted you.


When they were all at Natosha’s house, did Rome have a gun?

I don’t know.

Is there anyway Vanessa could have gotten in touch with you on the 6th and 7th?

Not to my knowledge.

Wow, Fitzgerald is asking a few more questions and Lavit hasn’t left the podium…he’s still standing there!

Yikes, they lost the feed so I missed last few minutes!

Jury wants to know why she didn’t share with her husband that Vanessa had a bump on her head?

I just figured it was just a bump.

Linda steps down.

Defense rests!

Court breaks for lunch.

Lavit again calls for an acquittal and again the Judge said nothing changed from yesterday and it would be up to the Jury.

Price says he expects closing to be about and hour.

Judge says anything over that, you wear out the Jury.

Lavit chuckles in a agreement (those of you who believe Laiy will keep yo an hour, press your true buzzers now!) and Baumgartner quickly adds, good I’m going to hold you to that!

The closings and charging should take up the afternoon.  The Jury may get the case this afternoon, but there may not be time for them to deliberate today!

1:15 Court resumes

Charges for the Jury

1:17 pm – 2:39 pm

Specific charges as well as the elements involved are being read.  Definitions, as well, will be provided!  This will be very lengthy due to the number of charges – 46 – and the discussion of the verdict forms.

Through all my years of trial watching, charging the Jury has always been the most problematic element of a trial for me.

One has to wonder how the jury can absorb all this information especially based on the volume of the charges in a case such as this.

  1. the volume of information is literally staggering
  2. most of the information is in legal jargon that the ordinary person doesn’t understand or utilize in daily speech

Jury Instructions for Dummies’ – me included – really needs to be considered for all courts.  It would lead to more perfect and just verdicts.

A break is called before closings.

Closing Arguments

3:05 pm – 3:47 pm

Price for the prosecution

I honestly believed Takisha would handle closing because she has done it so flawlessly, previously!

He opens with the abuse committed on Chris’s body.

Within 3 minutes, he has me in tears.

He says Chris suffered terribly, but Channon wasn’t so lucky, she suffered for days.

He delves into the horror she suffered.

Who’s responsible?

Vanessa Coleman was in on it too, from the beginning to the end.

Price stops to thank the jury for their service and tells them this case is about the evidence not the lawyers!

What were the actions or inactions that Vanessa Coleman took?

You are the judge of that – she came here voluntarily.

She saw the guns lying around the house.  She knew that!

Vanessa Coleman said Davidson has violent temper.  Daphne Coleman testified to this.

Stacey Lawson had a gun shoved in her face.  She offered a ride to Vanessa on Jan 2 and she said no, I’m staying.

Daphne comes to the house and Davidson got violent with her.  What does she do?  She left.  Vanessa Coleman stays!

Her folks would have come to get her out, but she never called them because she was in on it.

Cobbins said both Chris and Channon were in the house in Vanessa’s presence!

I’m impressed with job Price is doing…no notes, all of the top of his head!

Vanessa claims Cobbins was orally raping Channon and nobody else was in the house.  She never attempted to leave the house!

That Sunday she says they got up around 12:16.  She didn’t get up and try to escape.

She made breakfast for everyone.  Who had breakfast?

Cobbins, her, Davidson and Thomas.  She never mentioned Channon!

In the tiny house, there is no way she could not have heard Channon’s screams reverberating off the walls even if the TV on.

YES!!!!! Price nails the whole question of why Daphne was charged like Vanessa…thank you Lord!

Vanessa claimed to see Davidson ‘snap her neck’.

The ME says there is no evidence of injury to Channon’s neck.

Price says he believes Vanessa caused the horrendous blows to Channon’s crotch because of her jealousy that her boyfriend, Cobbins had sex with Channon, multiple times.

The next day they go riding around in Channon’s 4-Runner.  Did she ever try to escape?

No attempt!

Vanessa is looking at Price with disdain!

Kudos, Mr. Price, brutal yet brilliant closing, but I am sure Chris, Channon and their families are grateful…I know I am!

3:47 – 4:29

Lavit for the defense

He has the podium moved to face the Jury because he has tons of papers he needs to use in his closings!

He begins by thanking the jury.

He shouts there is no evidence…all the witnesses rely on feelings not truth!

He claims that Chris being brought in the house was based on lies!  It’s all speculation and insinuation.

Oh, this is not pretty!

You need logic to decide this case and if you don’t have that, it’s speculation.

I feel for their parents and families…terrible.

But I have to go to the law, not speculation.

He claims Vanessa had no benefit from the crimes, she did not aid in the offenses.

He is not effective because he has to rely on notes to make his case and he constantly fumbles with them to find his place and loses his place that he apologizes.

Look at Judge Baumgartner’s instructions and every charge must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

The burden of proof is on the State, if they fail and you must make that call.

If you say not guilty, they failed, but you are not saying they are innocent…they didn’t prove guilt!

Lavit is on the immunity request form.  Jennings went into a lengthy explanation.  The form is not just what the Federal government thought of Vanessa as well as what the State thought.

The just kept plying Vanessa with questions.

She lied to them just like Daphne and her 2 girlfriends did.

Where was the criminal responsibility?

Oh good Lord, screaming at a Jury won’t get you anywhere!  Make him stop!

This is beyond disjointed.

He’s asking the Jury to look at page 3…they don’t even have the transcript in front of them and he can’t even find it!!!

Uh, if he sits down now Nessa may have a slim chance.

This to me is proof the defense is desperate, has no defense and is grasping at straws.

Ok, we are back to how young and naive Vanessa was, but that doesn’t make her guilty.

She wanted out was being watched.  She knew it was wrong hanging out with those killers.

Lavit acknowledges what happened to Chris and Channon was horrendous, but Vanessa had no part in it…it was the 4 men.

This is based on Vanessa’s stories.

Guilt by association is not acceptable…you need to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Lavit now compares Vanessa with Jim Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird!

4:30 – 4:52

Takisha on rebuttal

We can all believe everyone lies on their first interview with police.

She very quickly goes through a timeline and it is impossible transcribe, but will certainly discredit much of what Vanessa said.

The gist of the rebuttal is the number of sexual assaults on Channon.

Vanessa didn’t hear Channon screaming in the bedroom?

She heard Boyd and the other 4 men whispering in the living room over the running water in the shower!

Takisha says Vanessa has been threatened, says she saw Channon’s neck ‘snapped’, but she goes riding around in Channon’s 4-Runner!

She nails the immunity issue again as well as blasting the Daphne Sutton guilt issue.

All the issues I felt were of utmost importance, got nailed by Price and Fitzgerald.

4:55 – 5:28 pm

Judge Baumgartner continues Charges to the Jury…

Judges asks the Jury to turn to page 71 of the charges to finish the instructions.

All instructions have been laid out and the Jury now owns the case!

Judge Baumgartner suggestion –  wait till tomorrow till they deliberate.

5:35 he has now handed the case to the Jury.

Dinner and drinks on me because we, who have followed all these difficult trials, deserve it!!

Ladies and gentlemen, we are now on VERDICT WATCH!!!

Check back for the announcement of the verdict…

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

    Thank for the excellent summary of the day’s events. We knew the identity of the four people who were in the house during these horrific murders. The severance of the trials made each trial difficult as each defendant blamed the others. Cobbins blamed Davidson. Davidson blamed Cobbins. Thomas was smoking dope which mad ehim blind and deaf. Coleman saw and heard nothing except when taking a shower in the bathroom. You wonder how Channon and Chris were murdered. The defense attorneys in each trial described their client as a passive person who was afraid of everybody else.

  2. Anonymous
    05/12/2010 at 11:03 am

    Thanks for the updates. Didn’t get to see closing arguments.

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