Lemaricus Davidson was sentenced to death by the State of Tennessee for a double murder. According to court documents Lemaricus Davidson and two other men, Letalvis D. Cobbins and George Thomas would carjack the two victims who were sexually assaulted and murdered. Lemaricus Davidson was sentenced to death, his two other accomplices received life sentences
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This case arises from the January 2007 kidnapping, robbery, rape, and murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom in Knoxville, Tennessee. On Saturday, January 6, 2007, Channon and Chris planned to have dinner together and then spend the evening at a party at a friend’s home in the Halls community. Saturday afternoon, Channon went to her friend Kara Sowards’s apartment at the Washington Ridge Apartments to get ready for the party. Around 8:00 p.m., Ms. Sowards went to the party, and Channon stayed behind waiting for Chris to arrive. At 8:47 p.m., Chris withdrew $100 from his bank account at an ATM machine in the Halls area. Around 9:00 p.m., Chris dropped off his friend, Josh Anderson, at the party, telling friends he and Channon were going out to eat and would join the party later. Ms. Sowards called Channon and told her Chris was on his way. It was about a ten-minute drive from the party to the Washington Ridge Apartments.
Around 10:00 p.m., when Chris and Channon had not arrived at the party, their friends called and texted them but received no reply. Around 11:00 p.m., two of Chris’s friends went to the Washington Ridge Apartments in search of him and discovered that his truck was in the parking lot and Channon’s 2005 Toyota 4Runner was missing.
Chris and Channon never arrived at the party. Their friends never saw or spoke to them again. Channon was last seen wearing jeans, hot pink high heels, and a navy blue, hot pink, and white striped sweater and carrying a gray purse. Chris was last seen wearing jeans, black and silver size 91//2 Nike Shox athletic shoes, a blue sweater with a white collar, and a baseball cap. Sometime between 9:10 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., Chris and Channon were abducted from the parking lot of the Washington Ridge Apartments and taken in Channon‘s vehicle to the home of Lemaricus Devall Davidson at 2316 Chipman Street in Knoxville.
On Sunday, January 7, around 12:30 a.m., Xavier Jenkins, an employee of Waste Connections on Chipman Street, arrived for work and waited in his car in the parking area outside the Waste Connections gated parking lot for a coworker to arrive. From where Mr. Jenkins was parked, he could see across the street to Mr. Davidson’s house and noticed Channon’s vehicle parked in front of it. The porch lights were on, and the house seemed to be “pretty busy” for that time of night. He had never seen Channon’s vehicle before that evening. Mr. Jenkins briefly left to go to a nearby convenience store, and when he returned, he waited in his vehicle in the parking area across from Mr. Davidson’s house. Around 12:50 a.m., he saw Channon’s vehicle pull away from where it had been parked in front of Mr. Davidson’s house and come in his direction. As the vehicle passed Mr. Jenkins, it slowed down, and he saw four African-American men in it. The driver, wearing a hoodie, looked at him “kind of strange” and “kind of mean-[mugged]” him.
On Sunday at 12:33 a.m., Channon called her father and told him she had changed her mind and would not be spending the night at the party but would be home between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. Cellular records indicate this call came from the Cherry Street area in the general vicinity of Mr. Davidson’s house.
On Sunday at 1:45 a.m., Jerome Arnold was watching television at his Chipman Street residence a block from Mr. Davidson’s house when he heard “three fairly evenly spaced pops” coming from the direction of the train tracks.
On Sunday around 3:30 a.m., Ms. Sowards returned from the party and noticed that Chris’s truck was in the parking lot and Channon’s vehicle was gone. Ms. Sowards’s apartment door was locked, and Channon’s overnight bag was missing.
On Sunday at 6:30 a.m., when Mr. Jenkins returned to Waste Connections from running his route, he saw Channon’s vehicle with an orange University of Tennessee “Power T” decal on the window parked facing the train tracks in front of Waste Connections on Chipman Street. The vehicle appeared to be out of place, and when Mr. Jenkins looked in the vehicle, he saw no one in it.
On Sunday at 7:45 a.m., when Roy Thurman arrived for work at a sandblasting company in the Chipman Street area, he saw smoke rising from the direction of the train tracks.
On Sunday morning and afternoon, Ms. Sowards and Channon’s mother repeatedly called Channon’s cell phone, but there was no answer. On Sunday afternoon, Channon’s mother’s fears were confirmed when the manager of the Shoe Department where Channon worked called to check on Channon because she had not reported to work. Channon’s mother called local hospitals, Chris’s family, and Channon’s friends trying to find her. When Channon still could not be located, Channon’s mother notified the Knox County Sheriff’s Department and filed a missing persons report. Meanwhile, Chris’s family was also worried about him. They called the police, checked with local hospitals and Chris’s friends, and filed a missing persons report.
On Sunday at 12:20 p.m., J.D. Ford, a Norfolk Southern Railroad employee, discovered Chris’s severely burned body beside the train tracks not far from Mr. Davidson’s house. Chris had been shot, his hands tied behind his back, his eyes covered with a bandana, a sock stuffed in his mouth, his head wrapped in a sweatshirt, and his bare feet bound together. The police were notified and responded to the scene.
When Channon’s family requested help from law enforcement, they were told that the authorities would not search for their missing daughter and they would have to do it themselves. And they did. The Christians contacted their cellular phone company and learned that Channon’s phone had last pinged off the Cherry Street phone tower. On Sunday night, some of Channon’s and Chris’s family and friends went to the Cherry Street area and searched street by street. This was a part of town that Channon and Chris did not visit.
Early Monday, January 8, between 1:30 a.m. and 2:00 a.m., the search party discovered Channon’s vehicle at the corner of Chipman and Glider Streets. An orange University of Tennessee “Power T” decal and a “NorthFace” sticker had been removed from the back window. The police were called and responded to the scene. Bags of clothing, including a pair of GLO jeans, which Channon had planned to donate to charity, were missing from the back of the vehicle. Channon’s overnight bag and its contents were also missing. The front seats of the vehicle were pushed all the way back, and the backseat floorboard was caked with mud. A crumpled pack of Newport cigarettes was in the back of the vehicle. Neither Channon nor Chris smoked Newport cigarettes. The vehicle was photographed, inventoried, and taken to the police impound lot. Sandra Kileen Bible, who lived in the house at the corner of Chipman and Glider Streets, said she had not seen the vehicle there at midnight when she sat on the porch smoking a cigarette. She had never seen Channon’s vehicle in the neighborhood before.
Dan Crenshaw, senior evidence technician with the Knoxville Police Department forensic unit and a certified fingerprint examiner, went to the scene and processed the vehicle for fingerprints. The outside of the vehicle, however, appeared to have been wiped clean, and he could not get any prints.
On Monday, January 8, at 11:00 p.m., when Mr. Crenshaw returned to work on the night shift, he retrieved a bank envelope from the back seat of the vehicle and began processing it.
On Tuesday, January 9, at 2:45 a.m., Mr. Crenshaw determined that the fingerprint on the bank envelope matched Mr. Davidson’s fingerprint. Mr. Crenshaw then discovered that Mr. Davidson’s address was on Chipman Street, close to where Channon’s vehicle and Chris’s body were found. At 2:52 a.m., Mr. Crenshaw emailed Knoxville Police Department Investigator Todd Childress and others informing them he had confirmed Mr. Davidson’s fingerprint on the envelope and his Chipman Street address. At 7:00 a.m., the fingerprint match was verified by Tim Schade, another Knoxville Police Department evidence technician. Mr. Crenshaw was certain that Mr. Davidson was involved in the disappearance of Channon. Between 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m., while waiting on the fingerprint verification, Mr. Crenshaw drove by Mr. Davidson’s Chipman Street house hoping to see or hear something so he or someone else could take action. There were no signs of activity at the house.
On Tuesday morning, after the fingerprint match to Mr. Davidson was verified, Investigator Childress began to search for information regarding Mr. Davidson and discovered, among other things, an outstanding attachment for his arrest for failure to appear in court. Investigator Childress prepared an affidavit for a search warrant for Mr. Davidson’s house. Investigator Childress hurriedly printed the affidavit and did not realize that he had printed it on letter-sized paper instead of legal-sized paper. As a result, the signature line on the affidavit was cut off. Sometime between 10:30 a.m. and noon, Investigator Childress appeared before Knox County General Sessions Judge Tony Stansberry to request the issuance of a search warrant. Investigator Childress did not sign the affidavit but instead signed the search warrant on the line marked “Officer To Whom Warrant Is Delivered For Execution.” Judge Stansberry reviewed the affidavit but did not notice that Investigator Childress had failed to sign it. Investigator Childress raised his hand and swore to the truth of the contents of the affidavit before Judge Stansberry. On Tuesday, January 9, at 12:53 p.m., Judge Stansberry signed the search warrant.
At 1:39 p.m., officers entered Mr. Davidson’s house to execute the search warrant. They quickly checked the house and found no one at home. At 1:42 p.m., Sergeant Keith DeBow entered the kitchen and noticed an oddly shaped thirty-two-gallon plastic garbage can. Fearing someone was hiding in the garbage can, he drew his weapon, lifted the lid, and saw an arm partially covered with fabric. When he touched the arm, he knew he had discovered a dead body.
At 2:04 p.m., Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan, Knox County’s Medical Examiner, arrived to supervise the removal of Channon’s body. At approximately 3:10 p.m., the garbage can, with Channon’s body still inside, wrapped in a tarp, and secured with plastic tie wires, was removed from the house. Officers discovered Channon’s personalized iPod on top of a container in Mr. Davidson’s bedroom. At 3:30 p.m., the officers left the house after Investigator Childress told them to “[h]old what you’re doing” because the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office had advised him that they were to secure the location and leave the scene. Everyone left except for several officers who stayed outside the home to ensure that no one entered the residence.
Investigator Childress prepared a second affidavit for a search warrant with additional information, including that Channon’s body was found in Mr. Davidson’s house. He signed the affidavit and presented it to Knox County General Sessions Court Judge Chuck Cerny. At 7:25 p.m., Judge Cerny issued the second warrant. At 7:55 p.m., the officers reentered Mr. Davidson’s residence and collected evidence until about 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday. The search of the house produced numerous items that belonged to the victims, including clothing Channon had in her vehicle, photographs she kept in her vehicle, the gray purse she carried on Saturday night, her pink high heels, her iPod with the inscription “Channon Christian, Mom and Dad, we love you,” two of Chris’s baseball caps including the one he was last seen wearing, Channon’s camera, Chris’s driver’s license, a pay stub from Channon’s work, Channon’s mother’s Blockbuster card, a CD, and Channon’s personal toiletry items.