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Day 2 of testimony in George Thomas trial wraps up

7:46 PM, May 14, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Day one of George Thomas trial

  • George Thomas/file
  • Channon Christian, Christopher Newsom
    

Day Two

As of Tuesday, more than two dozen witnesses have taken the stand in the George Thomas retrial.

Senior Judge Walter Kurtz told the jury of 16 Davidson County residents that the trial would go into next week, as the prosecution will continue calling for witnesses Wednesday.

The Michigan native, Thomas faces 38 counts including murder, rape, and robberies of Chris Newsom and Channon Christian.

Victim's mothers take the stand

The mothers of Christian and Newsom took the stand once again Tuesday morning.

The families have never missed a court date, since the January 2007 murders of the couple.  The parents have testified in 5 previous trials, including the first trial for George Thomas, who was previously convicted.

Mary Newsom took the stand first, going through and identifying her sons belongings.  In regards to  the Chipman St. neighborhood where the couple was killed, Newsom said, "Chris wouldn't go into an area like that." She said they stayed up all night, worrying when he didn't return home.

Deena Christian then testified, also identifying Channon's belongings.  She also talked about the night of the murders, and when they realized something was wrong.  She said Channon was due home at 3:00 am.  A couple of phone calls made after that time were not answered.  The next morning, Channon's employer called to ask if Channon was okay, because she didn't show up for work.  That's when Deena Christian said she called Mary Newsom to say she believed something had happened to the kids.

Christian said, "I never let my children out the door without telling them I love them."

Prosecution "paints a picture" of what happened on Chipman St.

The prosecution spent the afternoon hours outlining what happened in the hours surrounding the murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.

Much of the testimony was centered around the actions of alleged ringleader, LeMaricus Davidson, but the prosecution wanted to point out that even though Thomas may not have been the most active participant in the crime, he was present while it was happening.

The prosecution used yellow tape to show the dimensions of the house on Chipman Street, where Christian died.  The house was smaller than the courtroom.  The prosecution says that proves there is no way George Thomas could have been in that house and not see or hear what was happening to Christian.

More than an hour's worth of testimony came from Daphne Sutton, the ex-girlfriend of LeMaricus Davidson. She recalled getting a message from her mother about what happened in January 2007, two days after the initial crime.

"Had a conversation (with my mother) and found out there was a dead female in the house," she recalled. "I remember (Davidson) was laying down beside me, and I think he could hear my mom because his eyes got really big."

The defense quickly pointed out that the gun found that lead to the murders were not in the hands of George Thomas.

"t was a black gun with a barrel in the middle that spins. It had brown on it," Sutton said."

Defense attorney Thomas Dillard asked, "Did you ever see Mr. Thomas with that gun?"

"No," Sutton responded.

Experts came forward from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, Knoxville Police, and cell phone company representatives during the Tuesday court proceedings. The prosecution wanted to use their knowledge to show where the suspects, including Thomas, were located during that evening. Again, this is to show that while Thomas was not the ringleader, he was still "part of a team," and was still "criminally responsible" for what happened.

For updates throughout the day, follow 10News Reporter Steve Butera at @SteveButera and @wbir on Twitter.  10News will also have updates and full reports on every broadcast and on wbir.com.

Day One

A steady group of witnesses and experts came to the stand in a Knox County courtroom Monday as day one of the George Thomas trial is completed.

George Thomas is one of four defendants accused of kidnapping, raping, torturing, and murdering Channon Christian and Chris Newsom in 2007. He faces 38 counts, including murder, kidnapping, rape, and robbery.

This is the second and last re-trial in the case tied to a disgraced judge who abused drugs and was forced to step down from the bench.

The prosecution first took the jurors to the scene of the crime, the Chipman Street house being rented at the time by ringleader LeMaricus Davidson.  That's where testimony in the previous cases has shown Channon Christian was raped and eventually killed.

Prosecutor TaKisha Fitzgerald said Thomas was criminally responsible for these crimes, even if he wasn't the ringleader.  DNA evidence was found linking Davidson and his brother, Letalvis Cobbins, to the crime, but not Thomas.

"Could've done something. Should've done something. He would've done something," Fitzgerald said. "But he didn't... because he was part of a group on Chipman Street; he was part of the team."

The defense's case rests on the fact that there was no physical evidence that proves Thomas was involved in the rape or murders.  They said he did not get involved because that was part of his upbringing.  During the initial interviews, a detective called Thomas the most innocent one in the house.

"Failure to act to stop a crime is not a crime," Defense attorney Stephen Russ Johnson said. "It's not murder; it's not rape; it's not kidnapping."

Family returns to court

Hugh Newsom said this is the 298th time he has sat in on a trial involving the death of his son. With his wife, Mary, they once again said near the front of criminal court. He said he is optimistic the family will hear the same verdict and sentence as they heard in 2009.

"They had the same evidence as they have now, and they were able to get life without parole. Now, why should they not get the same today, or this week, for this trial." he said.

However, his wife had some concern because of the lack of forensic evidence on Thomas.

Meanwhile, Gary Christian still believed the results will be the same. "There was no smoking gun last time in Thomas' trial. You can't stay in a house for three days in a house with the torture going on and not be held responsible."

Thomas faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

He cannot receive the death penalty because that is a more serious punishment than his previous sentence.

For updates throughout the day, follow 10News Reporter Steve Butera at @SteveButera and @wbir on Twitter.  10News will also have updates and full reports on every broadcast and on wbir.com.

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