KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — A Knox County Criminal Court judge denied a bid by three men for new trials in the killing of 15-year-old Zaevion Dobson.
Judge Steve Sword read and listened to the arguments in court Friday morning. He said in going over the case, he felt it was about as clean as a case could one could have when you were trying three defendants together. He said he saw no serious error.
The state Court of Criminal Appeals can now take up the case.
One issue raised was the playing of a rap video at trial that Bassett's attorney called "highly prejudicial.”
It was made seven months before Zaevion’s killing and shows all three defendants. Attorney T. Scott Jones argued the state used the video to suggest the three defendants were gang members.
Defendants also objected to the jury not being sequestered, which would have added another layer of removal from the panel from exposure to the high-profile case.
Three men convicted in the shooting death of 15-year-old Zaevion Dobson in 2015 are asking a judge for a new trial.
Christopher Bassett, the main suspect, and Kipling Colbert Jr. and Richard Williams are set to appear Friday morning in Knox County Criminal Court.
They're seeking a new trial from Judge Steve Sword, who presided over their trial in December 2017.
The men are serving prison sentences. Bassett is serving a life sentence.
A jury convicted Bassett of first-degree murder in Dobson's death as well as five counts of attempted first-degree murder, three counts of attempted second-degree murder and unlawful possession of a weapon.
The panel convicted Colbert and Williams of facilitation of first-degree murder in Zaevion's death as well as five counts of facilitation of attempted first-degree murder and three counts of facilitation of second-degree murder.
The three went to the Lonsdale housing development the night of Dec. 17, 2015, firing indiscriminately in a revenge shooting. Dobson was fatally shot while trying to protect two friends on a porch. He was not a target.
President Obama hailed Dobson as a hero, and he received ESPN's Arthur Ashe Courage Award posthumously. Dobson played football for Fulton High School.
Defense attorneys have argued the high-profile case may have influenced the verdict.
Prosecutors said the men went to Lonsdale intending to shoot and kill after hearing that a friend’s mom had been shot in another part of town.
In seeking a conviction, prosecutors focused on criminal responsibility, the idea that each of the defendants was responsible as part of a team for all the shots fired in Lonsdale that night.
Defense attorneys focused on reasonable doubt, that witnesses from that night couldn't identify or place the defendants specifically at the scene.