Home > Crime > Christian-Newsom – Vanessa Coleman’s Retrial Gets Underway

Christian-Newsom – Vanessa Coleman’s Retrial Gets Underway


Prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald warmly hugs Mary, Hugh, Deena and Gary.

Judge Blackwood takes the bench and calls all the attorneys to the bench.

Coleman enters the courtroom with her usual smirk and dressed in all black. Her parents are in attendance.

9:12am – the jury is ushered in and Judge Blackwood explains to them what to expect and what they’ll be tasked with.

Leland Price reads the indictment.  Coleman is being retried on 17 of the original 32 counts the state charged her with in 2009.

Takisha begins opening statement.  She begins with mentioning Chris Newsom’s burned body and proceeds to explain how Channon Christian’s body was found in a trashcan.  She mentions all the cast of characters.

She describes the Chipman Street house as 900 square feet with no interior doors.

She is describing the train engineer found Chris’s smoldering body by the tracks and how Deena has spent hours trying to reach Channon on her cell.

After Channon’s SUV is found and her cell pings to Chipman Street, police enter the house and find Channon’s body, but nobody else was in the house. They then located Daphne Sutton who was on the rental agreement and she provides the names of Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, and George Thomas.

Takisha goes into the number of interviews with Coleman and how her story changed with each interview.

Coleman’s damning diary is up on the screen now, “I’ve had one HELL OF AN ADVENTURE.”

Blackwood calls the attorneys to the bench…the jury is sent out

Defense attorney Ted Lavit addresses a 2010 immunity form for Coleman by the federal authorities and wants it entered as evidence, the same was argued in original trial.

Defense says state adopted it, state says they didn’t. State says we acknowledge that the agreement was made, but we never agreed to abide by it.

Blackwood calls for a break and leaves the bench to read the document.  He has decided not to allow the immunity form.

Defense now complaining based on the witnesses the State intends to call, they are presenting the exact case they did before and that’s not what we’re here for.

Defense begins opening with Coleman just graduating and going to work and just got mixed up with a bad bunch. She had never been in trouble and was a hard worker.

Coleman was left alone at the house and you’ll see no evidence that Coleman had knowledge of Davidson’s plan.

Lavit makes it sound like a huge house! Like she couldn’t hear them screaming or begging for their lives!

She knew exactly what was happening. She enjoyed it; she wrote so in her diary!

Lavit admits Coleman lied to authorities when first questioned. But says she “spilled her guts” in the follow up interviews.

Lavit tells jury Coleman did not facilitate the crimes. She was “merely there” as Christian was being held, tortured and raped.

Lavit is just droning on and on how Coleman was being watched and couldn’t escape and she was afraid for her life.

According to Lavit, Coleman didn’t know the purse, clothes, and perfume she took belonged to Channon.

Lavit says Coleman’s journal was really frivolous because she was still in danger from Cobbins and Thomas.

Finally, Lavit sits down.

First witness, Josh Anderson.  He played golf with Chris Newsom the day he was kidnapped.

He describes going to the party and how they kept calling Channon and Chris to find out where they were.

They drove to Kara’s house where Chris and Channon were hanging out.  They saw Chris’s truck, but not Channon’s 4 Runner.

Throughout the day, they were trying to figure out what was going on and began to get worried.

He describes how a bunch of them went out searching for Channon’s 4 Runner after receiving the cell phone ping info and how they located it.

Takisha shows him a bunch of photos that he identifies.

He identified Chris’s baseball cap and shoes.

Bunch of stuff being moved into evidence.

All this must be so hard on the Christian and Newsom families.

11:41, Judge Blackwood calls lunch.

12:47 court resumes.

Next up Kara Sowards, Channon’s best friend.

She describes how she and Channon were going to a party that night.  Channon was at her apartment around 5 or 6.

Kara heard Channon on the phone with Chris and he was coming to take her to diner.  Kara left at 8 pm for the party, expecting to see Channon and Chris at the party a little later.

Around 9 pm, Kara called Channon to tell her that Chris was on his way to pick her up.

10:30, Kara noticed Channon and Chris weren’t there so she started texting and calling, but received no answer

Around 3 am Kara left the party.  She saw Chris’s truck but not Channon’s 4 Runner, which was unusual because Chris always drove.

She details how panicked everyone became by the afternoon because nobody had spoken to Chris or Channon and Chris hadn’t gone to work.

She identifies photos of her apartment, Channon’s 4 Runner, the perfume bottle from Channon’s purse, etc.

Kara identifies the clothes Channon was wearing and the clothing she was taking to goodwill.

Wow, defense has no questions!

Xavier Jenkins up next.  Worked at Waste Management that is across the street from the Chipman house.  He spotted the 4 Runner with men inside.

He then saw the 4 Runner leave with 4 black men inside and it drove by him and mean mugged him.

He felt something just wasn’t right because the 4 Runner seemed out of place.

He identifies photos of the vehicle.

Coleman looks pretty bored.

Lavit asks if the believed he vehicle was stolen.  Jenkins said yes.

Lavit asks if he called the police.  Jenkins said no.

Lavit, are you sure there were 4 black men?  That was my impression.

Lavit, but your not sure?  At least the men in the front were.

Lavit, you see anyone in the house?  No sir.

Lavit, did you see anyone leave house?  No.

Lavit, did you see any of the men exit the 4 Runner?  No sir.

Jenkins says he spoke to police on that Monday or soon after the news started carrying the story.

Jenkins is released…excellent witness!

Next, Adrienne Mathis, Eric Boyd’s cousin.  She loaned her car to Boyd…the white car that was parked behind Channon’s 4 Runner on Chipman Street. Boyd is currently in prison in KY for misprision of a felony.

She never knew Davidson, Cobbins, Thomas, or Coleman.

Witness passed.

Lavit did you know the car was parked on Chipman Street?  No.

Lavit, was he one of the 4 blacks in the 4 Runner?  I wouldn’t know that.

Lavit keeps asking the same questions over and over…what’s the relevance?

Jerome Arnold is called.  He lived a block away from the Chipman Street house.

He was watching television that evening.  Around 1:45 am he heard 3 distinctive pops.  Those pops were when Chris was shot.

He though it might by firecrackers leftover from New Years, didn’t think it was out of the ordinary and didn’t call police.

Lavit on cross – did you hear screams?  No.

Lavit if you had heard screams would you have called the police? Yes.

Lavit, but in all this time, you never heard screams?  No.

Roy Thurman is up.  He saw the smoke coming up by the railroad tracks.  He didn’t investigate because homeless people hang around there and lots of times there was smoke from them burning stuff

No questions from defense.

JD Ford called.  Railroad engineer that spotted Chris’s body near the tracks.

He said the legs weren’t badly burnt, but he couldn’t see much more so he wasn’t really sure it was a body.

He called his chief and was told they would call authorities and to wait there.

He got off the train and walked closer and realized it really was a body.  He could identify the body as a male.  Investigators arrived shortly after.

No cross.

2:33, Blackwood calls a recess.

Court resumes.

Lavit is whining about the pictures of Chris’s burnt body. Blackwood says he doesn’t know what pictures will be introduced so he can’t make a decision yet.

Robert Watson on the stand.  State Fire Marshal’s office.  Training officer and K-9 handler.  He responded to the scene at the tracks.

He inspected the scene and saw something had burned so he brought the dog in.  The dog alerted to gasoline in two spots.

He collected evidence and sent it off to the state lab.

He identifies photos of the scene at the tracks.  They are entered into evidence.

Lavit, can you tell the jury about 2316 Chipman Street?  No sir

Russ Whitfield is called.  He’s with KPD Forensics and photographed Newsom site.

He saw what he thought was a kite tail…it was a cloth with knots tied in it.

He identifies photos of the scene.  He now shows the actual evidence he photographed to the jury.

All items entered into evidence.

Lavit, did you identify the owner of the cloth that was tied in knots?  No sir.

Lavit; did you identify any items as being connected to Vanessa?  No.

Lavit, do you know if Vanessa Coleman was connected to tearing the cloth from the larger sheet?  No sir.

Oh, Lavit is just full of crap!

Laura Hodge is called.  Bureau of Investigation, forensic microfiber analysis.

She found gasoline grade presence on the items Whitfield submitted.

Lavit, did your results have any connection to Vanessa Coleman?  No sir.

Did you do any self investigation into went on in the Chipman Street house? No.

Price objects and Lavit starts shouting. Judge ruled in favor of defense, no further questions of that witness. Lengthy sidebar and the witness is gone. The sidebar discussion became loud enough the Judge excused jury while they argued.

Coleman now taken out of court!

Looks like Blackwood called a recess?

Coleman back in.

Takisha is on the stand giving testimony for Dan Crenshaw, who is now deceased.  KPD forensic unit in the fingerprint section.

There is a lot of testimony as to certification and how fingerprints are collected and compared.

He processed Channon’s 4 Runner.  He is the one who find the bank envelope that had Davidson’s print on it.

Lavit pipes up saying, ‘ wait a second, wait a second’ and we go to sidebar again.

IMO, this may have been more effective had they shown the tape of Crenshaw’s original testimony.

Davidson’s palm print is identified on the trash bag.


Also, Davidson’s print was on one of Channon’s photos from the 4 Runner.

The reading of the testimony is over.

Kileen Bible is called.  She is in a wheelchair and getting her testimony picked-up by the mic is hard.  She lived off Chipman and saw the 4 Runner.

She identifies photos of the street and the 4 Runner that was parked in front of her house that are entered.

Lavit, do you know who drove it there?  No.

Lavit, was the 4 Runner there the net morning?  No.

Keith DeBow Admin control of SWAT team.  He was called to the scene because the police were unsure of the conditions in the house.  They entered the house and found Channon in the trashcan.

They cleared the rest of the house.

He identifies photos of the trashcan that are entered.

The team eventually apprehended Davidson hiding out on Reynolds Street.

Joe Cox is up. KPD for 39 years.  Works in the crime lab.

Collected evidence at 2316 Chipman.  He photographed and videoed the scene.

He identifies photos of the scene that go into evidence.

He collected 3 trash bags, one from the kitchen, others from the utility room.

He identifies photos of the bags that are entered.

He identifies photos of the interior of the house.  This part is quite lengthy and tedious.

Many of the items photographed are Channon’s clothing and purse as well as Chris’ hat, his burnt drivers license and burnt cell phone.

He is now identifying actual evidence items taken from the house.

These items were in the 3 garbage bags mentioned earlier.

This is a bit hard to pay attention to because we’ve seen it so many times before, but I do understand this all has to lay out for this jury.

Judge just called for a 5-minute break at 5:36.

Back reviewing evidence.

Price now plays the 10-minute video Cox took at the house.  Cox narrates.

Greene for the defense.  When did you take the video?  The ninth.

From the street level you can’t really see in the house?  Yes.

Of the 158 pictures, how many do you say linked to Vanessa Coleman?  I don’t know what Vanessa Coleman did in that house.

6:13 court is called for the day and will begin again tomorrow at 9 am.

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