KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Twelve years after the murder of a young Knox County couple, Eric D. Boyd, 47, faces charges including kidnapping, rape and murder. He's accused of having a direct role in the attacks on Chris Newsom, 23, and Channon Christian, 21, in January 2007.
Friday marked day four of his trial. Get full coverage here.
Judge Bob McGee dismissed the jury at about 3:23 p.m., but kept everyone else behind to discuss the Adrienne Mathis testimony. Prosecution is not expected to rest until Monday. The defense will also begin questioning their witnesses.
KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM TODAY
- The State starts the day going over phone call records.
- Before 10:00 a.m., the State goes through six witnesses with little push back from the defense.
- We hear from people who actually knew Boyd outside of Davidson and lived at the same apartment complex as him at the time of the murders.
- Jennifer Millsaps takes the witness stand at about 10:53 a.m. She is the forensic scientist who tested DNA evidence during the investigation of the crime. The defense asks for the jury to leave to discuss Millsaps testifying to sperm found on Boyd's clothes from an unknown man which he says is not relevant to the case. The State says they brought Millsaps in to discuss all the evidence she tested. The judge rules in the State's favor, and the jury is brought back in.
- The only DNA evidence found that belongs to Boyd was on a gun holster that was found in the white Pontiac Boyd's cousin said she did not remember loaning him on Monday.
- Medical examiner Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan takes the stand at about 1:39 p.m. She says 80% of Newsom's skin was burned with extensive blistering on his body and little remnants of clothes were still there. He was killed execution-style with the gun directly against his head meaning the shot happened from above and immediately killed him. She says the fire happened after the gunshots. She says Newsom was raped one to two hours before he was murdered.
- Mileusnic-Polchan says Christian was orally, anally, and vaginally raped before she died. She died in a trash can from suffocation with her eyes still open. She was still alive when she was put in the trash can, but died more than 24 hours before she was found January 9, 2007. The medical examiner says it is hard to tell what order Christian was raped but looked like they happened at the same time.
- Judge Bob McGee dismisses the jury at about 3:23 p.m. but keeps everyone else behind to discuss the Adrienne Mathis testimony. Mathis previously testified in other trials that she let Boyd borrow her white Pontiac, but on Tuesday, she said she could not remember. This is the only evidence tying Boyd to the Chipman house other than the testimonies of Thomas and Jenkins. The judge says state court transcripts are off the table but did rule in the State's favor that the federal court transcripts could be brought in.
Ricardo Leal takes the witness stand
Ricardo Leal took the witness stand for the State at about 9:04 a.m. He is a representative from Sprint. The State had him look at records for Lemaricus Davidson's cell phone. The defense did not cross. He stepped down at about 9:09 a.m.
Timothy Gray takes the witness stand
Timothy Gray took the witness stand at about 9:10 a.m. He is a representative from Verizon Wireless. The State asks him procedural questions on more phone records. It does not last long. The defense did not cross. He stepped down at about 9:12 a.m.
Jason Mynatt takes the witness stand
Jason Mynatt took the witness stand at about 9:13 a.m. He is currently an inmate for something that has nothing to do with this case. The State called him because he got a phone call the night of the murders, January 7, 2007, at 2:10 a.m. from one of the suspects. Mynatt said it was a wrong number, and that he did not know any of the suspects.
The defense did not cross. He stepped down at about 9:16 a.m.
Danielle Lightfood takes the witness stand
Danielle Lightfood took the witness stand at about 9:17 a.m. She was friends with Boyd and Davidson at the time of the murders. Her birthday is January 5, so she was having a party the weekend of the murders. She said Davidson and Boyd showed up at her house to "party" and then asked to stay with her for a few nights. She let them stay. She said the next day they were just hanging out at the house when she saw the Chipman Street house on the news but did not know it had anything to do with Davidson or Boyd.
By Wednesday, January 10, she saw Davidson's face on the news. She said he told her he did not know what was going on, so she said he should turn himself in if he did not have anything to hide. She said she wanted them to leave because she thought Davidson was lying. She said she was closer to Eric Boyd and trusted him because they were neighbors at one time and had known each other for years. She said Boyd pointed out her kitchen window to the vacant house where Boyd hid Davidson. She adds that the two left her apartment together.
The defense asked a quick question about the white Pontiac. She stepped down at about 9:35 a.m.
Taylor Schadix takes the witness stand
Taylor Schadix took the witness stand at about 9:36 a.m. She was friends with Daphne Sutton at the time of the murders. After the murders, Davidson called her in hopes she could him in touch with Sutton. Her number could be the one that Davidson was trying to call when he called Jason Mynatt. The defense asked Schadix if she knew Boyd, and she said she did not. She stepped down at about 9:39 a.m.
Randall Nelson takes the witness stand
Randall Nelson took the witness stand at about 9:40 a.m. He is now retired but worked for TBI. He was another forensic tech for the State. This is the sixth witness in less than an hour.
The State has Nelson discuss a white camisole that belonged to Christian. At the time of the investigation, he sampled the top to see if there was any bleach on it. He help up the white top to the jury as he described why he sampled it. The State said the suspects poured bleach down Christian's throat in an attempt to destroy evidence of their rape. Nelson confirmed there is bleach on it. The defense had Nelson confirm that there was a test done on the camisole. He stepped down at about 9:54 a.m. Clinton Frazier, Boyd’s defense attorney, said he had something to attend to, so the judge orders a 15 minutes recess at about 9:55 a.m.
Linda Littlejohn takes the witness stand
After a short recess, Linda Littlejohn took the stand at about 10:23 a.m. She is now retired but worked for TBI Crime Lab. During the investigation of the crime, she was asked to test the floral cloth that was used to tie up Christian and Newsom and recovered from their autopsies. She worked to find fracture matches where the cloth originally connected. She said the cloth used to tie up both Christian and Newsom were the same. This is the same fabric Davidson bought from Ethel Freeman, who testified yesterday. The defense does not add anything. Littlejohn stepped down at about 10:36 a.m.
Leesa Greer takes the witness stand
Leesa Greer took the witness stand at about 10:37 a.m. She lived at Ridgebrook Apartments at the same time as Eric Boyd. Her sister, who has now passed, was nervous when she came home. Greer cannot say why her sister upset because it is hearsay. The defense does not cross.
Greer stepped down at about 10:42 a.m.
Kadiatu Kamara takes the witness stand
Kadiatu Kamara took the witness stand at about 10:43 a.m. She is originally from West Africa and also lived at Ridgebrook Apartments at the same time as Eric Boyd. On January 11, 2007, she said Boyd offered to help drive her and her daughter to a dentist appointment in her van because she did not have a license at the time. They were pulled over by police. She said they never made it to the dentist appoint. The defense asked her if Boyd often tried to help her and her daughter out, and she responded yes. She stepped down at about 10:52 a.m.
Jennifer Millsaps takes the witness stand
Jennifer Millsaps took the witness stand at about 10:53 a.m. She is a forensic scientist for TBI, and tested DNA evidence during the investigation of the crime. She was another expert witness for the State. The defense asked for the jury to leave to discuss Millsaps testifying to sperm found on Boyd's clothes from an unknown man which he says is not relevant to the case. The State said they brought Millsaps in to discuss all the evidence she tested. The judge ruled in the State's favor, and the jury was brought back in. The State had her go through all the samples that she once tested. Millsaps testified that the sperm of Davidson and Letalvis Cobbins was found inside Christian which is not relevant to this Boyd trial. She even found DNA of Vanessa Coleman but not Eric Boyd. The State had Millsaps discuss the trashcan Christian's body was found in. She held it up for the entire courtroom to see and said she did not find any DNA that belonged to the suspects on it. She also discussed a gun holster that was found in the white Pontiac Boyd's cousin said she did not remember loaning him on Monday. Millsaps said she found Boyd's DNA on the holster.
The State ended their questioning, and the judge said it was time for lunch. Court went into recess at about 11:58 a.m. Court came back at about 1:05 p.m. Before cross-examination, the State introduced several of Millsaps' reports into evidence. The State then showed photographs of Christian's clothes to link the stains on the clothing to the DNA evidence of sperm from Cobbins and Davidson. Cross-examination began with the defense asking Millsaps go into more detail on a photograph of a white cloth with a knot on the end. Clinton Frazier, Boyd’s defense attorney, had Millsaps go back over different parts of the reports asking for more detail. He went on to ask her if she found Boyd's DNA on anything other than the gun holster and the items that belonged to Boyd that were tested. She responded that she did not. The State re-directed by asking if the DNA of George Thomas was found, and she said no. Thomas was convicted in the murders, unlike Boyd. The State then had Millsaps discuss Boyd's infamous yellow shirt that says "watch for the alphabet boys" with CIA, DEA, ATF, etc. indicated as the people to watch out for. The only DNA found on the shirt belonged to Boyd.
The defense came back quickly and asked the witness if it was "remarkable" that Boyd's DNA was found on his shirt. She answered no. She stepped down at about 1:37 p.m.
Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan, the medical examiner, takes the witness stand
Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan took the stand at about 1:39 p.m. She is Chief Medical Examiner for Knox County and Associate Professor of Pathology with The University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine. The State had her go through Newsom's autopsy first. Gruesome autopsy photos were shown to the jury and everyone in the courtroom. Mileusnic-Polchan said 80% of Newsom's skin was burned with extensive blistering on his body and little remnants of clothes were still there. A photo of Newsom’s head wrapped in a sweatshirt was shown as his family and friends got emotional. She said the body was oozing flesh still when they did the autopsy 24 hours after his death. The medical examiner said Newsom's was barefoot when he died. The State moved to the gunshot wounds on Newsom's back. All three of the bullets were recovered, and photos of those bullets were shown. The State brought in a life sized model of a human body to describe the shots that killed Newsom. He was shot execution-style with the gun directly against his head meaning the shot happened from above and immediately killed him. She said the fire happened after the gunshots.
She added that he was bent over for one of the shots and that it would have paralyzed his legs. She also said Newsom bound, blindfolded, and gagged because he was shot through layers. Mileusnic-Polchan discussed the damage to Newsom's anus. She said there was tearing, bruising, and laceration both outside and inside of his body. She added that the anal injuries happened one to two hours before he was killed because his blood cells were responding to anal injuries. She said he was raped.
The State went on to Christian's autopsy. The State started with how she was found in the trashcan. This was extremely emotional for both of Christian's parents and the entire courtroom.
A photo of a small white bag covering Christian's entire face was shown. She was closely bound. Mileusnic-Polchan explained the coloration of the blood and bruising on Christian’s body. She said there was a “pressure mark” on her head from pushing her into that position in the trash can. The medical examiner said she could tell Christian suffocated with her eyes open. She said there was a cut on her right hand which led to some blood on her body, but most of the blood found on her and her clothes was from injuries to her vaginal area. She added that the cut on her hand may have happened after her death or during “the process of dying.” Mileusnic-Polchan went through the injuries on the inside of Christian’s mouth and the extensive hemorrhage and bruising in her vaginal area.
After the State finished going through the autopsy photographs, the medical examiner said Christian survived for some time after the trauma. She was orally, anally, and vaginally raped before she died. According to Mileusnic-Polchan, Christian's cause of death was asphyxiation (suffocation) from the plastic bag and being put in the trash can. She added that there were several contusions visible under her scalp, but it was not enough to be the cause of death. She said Christian died more than 24 hours before she was found January 9, 2007. She also said there was a strong chemical smell during the autopsy. The State asked Mileusnic-Polchan what order Christian was raped in. She responded that it was hard to tell but looked like they happened at the same time. The State ended their questioning with the medical examiner saying Christian was put in the trash can when she was still alive.
Before the defense did its cross-examination, the judge decided to take a short recess at about 2:54 p.m. Court continued at 3:14 p.m. Mileusnic-Polchan said Christian could have died any time between late Sunday night to early Monday morning which could have been after her 4Runner was found near the Chipman Street house. In the State's redirect, the medical examiner said Christian could have died in minutes or hours but not immediately. Mileusnic-Polchan stepped down at about 3:21 p.m.
Judge dismisses jury but keeps everyone else behind to address the Adrienne Mathis testimony
The jury was dismissed at about 3:23 p.m., but the judge kept everyone else behind to discuss the testimony of Boyd's cousin, Adrienne Mathis, from Tuesday. Mathis previously testified in other trials that she let Boyd's borrow her white Pontiac, but on Tuesday, she said she could not remember. The State asked that her previous testimony from 2008 be admitted as evidence despite her current testimony.
Without the Mathis testimony, the State does not have the white Pontiac in Boyd's possession. The only other evidence tying Boyd to the Chipman Street house is Thomas' testimony and possibly Jenkins who thinks he saw four black men in Christian's 4Runner the night of the crimes. He also said he saw the white car in front of the Chipman house. The judge said state court transcripts are off the table but did rule in the State's favor that the federal court transcripts could be brought in.
The court adjourned at about 3:39 p.m. and will be back Monday. The prosecution is not expected to rest until Monday. The defense will also begin questioning their witnesses.