In the second Knoxville Horror murder trial, only one penalty could spell justice for the victims of Lemaricus Davidson, the man who with an indeterminate number of accomplices carjacked, kidnapped, gang-raped, beat, sexually tortured and murdered Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23: Death.
And death was indeed the sentence finally meted out to Davidson on Friday afternoon, by seven male and five female jurors.
Two days earlier, the jury had convicted Davidson on 35 out of 38 state felony charges.
The trial was a defeat for Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard H. Baumgartner, who had again sought to subvert justice and save Davidson from the executioner's needle, as he had earlier saved Davidson's convicted accomplice and half-brother, Letalvis Cobbins.
In Cobbins' August trial, Judge Baumgartner had abused the jury selection process, in order to rig the sentencing options. Although the victims were both white, and the assailants had committed the atrocity in a jurisdiction that is 88 percent white and only 8.8 percent black, Baumgartner went to 27.5 percent black Davidson County, to fetch a majority-black jury, which he bused in to Knox County. That jury convicted Cobbins of 33 out of 38 felony charges, but sentenced him only to "life without parole".
In Gomer Pyle's immortal words, "Surprise, surprise, surprise!"
But in Davidson's trial, Judge Baumgartner was confounded by the defendant himself, who insisted on being tried before a Knox County jury. (Davidson's defense attorneys wouldn't say why.)Hence, only one juror was black.
But the judge had a last trick left up his sleeve.
Baumgartner made "Knox County judicial history", in the words of Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Jamie Satterfield, when he instructed the jury that it is more expensive to execute a prisoner than to keep him in jail for life. (Reporter Satterfield noted that the very study [PDF] Baumgartner had cited showed that an execution in fact saves taxpayers $770,000 over a life sentence without parole.)
That a death penalty-eligible prosecution is more expensive than one in which the worst potential sentence is life without parole is no secret in the Volunteer State. Tennessee law decrees that each defendant have not one but two death penalty-certified defense attorneys, and that there be an automatic appeal in the event of a death sentence.
But the key to the sentence in each trial, as Judge Baumgartner well knew, was the racial composition of the jury. A substantial proportion of blacks refuse, out of racial loyalty, to condemn a black convicted of capital murder to death, the statute be damned. Thus, Baumgartner's failure to racially stack the Davidson jury determined the outcome, and Davidson was sentenced to death.
Davidson's lawyers, David Eldridge and Doug Trant, in seeking to either get him off altogether or at least save his neck, trod three separate paths in diversity law.
Prior to and during the trial, the defense filed numerous motions, including:
Arguing that the January 9, 2007 search of the since-demolished house at 2316 Chipman Street, where the gang-rapes and torture of the victims and Christian's murder had been committed, was illegal—because the lead case investigator had signed the second page of the search warrant, but not the first—and thus that all evidence collected at the crime scene, including Channon Christian's corpse, be suppressed;
Claiming that Davidson's police statement should be thrown out;
Asking that all charges against Davidson be dismissed, following the revelation that two Knox County sheriff's deputies had accidentally copied and forwarded, unread, to prosecutors some correspondence between Davidson and his attorneys; and
Asking for a mistrial (talk about chutzpah!) after a young female lawyer on the prosecution team fainted in court at the sight of a picture of the genital wounds inflicted by the victims' tormentors—which the defense had unsuccessfully sought to have suppressed.
(Note that many of these procedural protections, while on paper race-neutral, were instituted from the 1960s onward to help minority felons escape justice. Leftists condemned the search for justice for the victims of black predators as "racist", and an exercise in "blaming the victim", i.e., the racist black predator was the real "victim". Prior to the 1960s' explosion in black crime, some infamous white criminals had been romanticized, but there had never been a massive, influential movement, found even within criminal justice institutions, that sought to help heinous criminals escape punishment.)
Judge Baumgartner rejected all of the above motions. He wasn't looking to get Davidson off altogether, he simply opposed giving him proper punishment.
Bizarro World Defense:
In Davidson's January, 2007 police statement (summary; video; transcript), amid countless, mutually contradictory revisions, he consistently held that he had never seen Christian or Newsom before January 7, 2007; never laid a hand on or had sex with Christian; that Christian had not come to the house seeking to buy "dope"; blamed the other suspects for the kidnapping and killing; and sought to present himself as a would-be hero who had promised Christian that he would save her life, but who had tragically come up short.
But Davidson's defense team proceeded as if his police statement had been thrown out—whether out of laziness, incompetence, a desire to sow confusion among the jurors, or the hope that the one black juror would hang the jury, the facts be damned.
They repeatedly implied that the victims had been in East Knoxville to buy drugs, and that Christian had had consensual vaginal sex with Davidson. (They suggested that Davidson's sperm had dripped out of Christian's vagina, and into her rectum.)
A friend of Davidson's, Ethel Lynn Freeman, testified that on the night of the crime, she saw them panhandling for gas money at an East Knoxville gas station in a notorious drug area. But there were at least three problems with Freeman's testimony:
It contradicted her previous testimony, as a prosecution witness, in the Eric Boyd and Letalvis Cobbins trials, respectively;
Based on what we know from other sources about the victims and about that night, it was utterly lacking in credibility (e.g., the victims weren't short of money);
At the time of her death, Channon Christian had only a small amount of alcohol, and no drugs, in her system.
The defense team also scrounged up convicted thief Jeffrey Bradley, who now claimed to have seen Christian get out of a car with Davidson and another woman that weekend. The prosecution was able to show that the car was in a different state.
The Slut Defense:
Via a new DNA test, the defense team was able to show that sperm from two additional, unidentified men was in Christian's underwear. However, since there was no sperm on or in her from her boyfriend, far from suggesting that Channon Christian was promiscuous, the DNA test suggested that at least two additional rapist-murderers are still at large.
Note that defense lawyers Eldridge and Trant perpetrated their unscrupulous smears of the characters of the victims in court in the presence of their grieving families.
For the sentencing phase, Eldridge and Trant switched to the standard pity play: "Hey, I'm depraved on account I'm deprived".
Davidson supposedly suffered horrific abuse as a child. "Expert" witnesses insisted that when Davidson was a wee lad, the violent die was already cast. He was the victim, after all. (Then why prosecute him. Why not just give him the keys to the city?)
Some of the same weepy, pathetic relatives who had testified in Cobbins' defense reprised their performances.
However, Davidson had spent some of his teen years with loving group home and foster parents, during which time he had shown none of the violence that the "experts" had testified was unavoidable.
Davidson's defense counsel will surely maintain that they were simply giving him a vigorous defense, and that they would be guilty of providing inadequate counsel, had they failed to do so.
I don't buy that. Defense attorneys for black defendants, whether black or white, increasingly spew nonsense indistinguishable from that of paranoid black supremacists, and even outside of court, typically talk as if their trial antics were justified by the facts.
Lawyers, like judges, are officers of the court, sworn to uphold the rule of law.
They should not be indulging fantasies that they know to be untrue, and are barred from suborning perjury.
Unfortunately, "diversity" has rotted the criminal justice system, just as it has rotted all other American institutions.
The explosion in black violent crime—much of it consisting in racially motivated attacks on whites—was part and parcel of the so-called civil rights movement, i.e., "diversity", whose leaders (including Martin Luther King Jr.) mixed racism with communism, and taught blacks that they were not obliged to obey America's "racist" laws. The elite media and academe increasingly identified with black criminals—to the point of lying not only about black felons' motives, but even about the extent of the crime. They insisted, the facts be damned, that innocent black males were routinely "racially profiled", rounded up and imprisoned, and even murdered by racist police. The same race-baiting "civil rights" ideology was behind both the black-on-white crime wave, and the lies about it.
Police and prosecutors, sometimes grudgingly, sometimes enthusiastically, went along.
Thus, in black-on-white racial atrocities, police and prosecutors have developed tortuous methods of interrogation and courtroom questioning of suspects and victims, attempting to get (self-incriminating) statements adequate to achieve convictions, while at the same time avoiding the bringing of "hate facts" to light.
Detectives must also interrogate each suspect, while tiptoeing through the latter's own minefield of lies, contradictions, and omissions, anticipating possibly three future minefields:
Defense attorney objections and motions to suppress the suspect's police statement;
The search by jurors who support black and Hispanic felons for pretexts to ignore incriminating and self-incriminating statements, and acquit the defendants;
Similar behavior by appeals court judges.
Specifically, in the interest of political correctness, the law enforcement authorities bar themselves from asking suspects (and later, in court, defendants and victims) obvious questions about motive.
For instance, in the December 2000 Wichita Massacre, Sedgwick County (Kansas) DA Nola Foulston's cross-examination of the two survivors of black brothers Jonathan and Reginald Carr's mass murder-rape-robbery spree followed a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. She asked no questions to which answers might show that the Carrs had said politically incorrect things to their exclusively white victims, possibly constituting evidence of a "hate crime".
In the Knoxville case, kidnapper-rapist-torturer-murderer Letalvis Cobbins offered a Grand Canyon-wide opening to ask such questions.
"In his statement to [Knoxville Police Department Investigator Steve] Still, Cobbins conceded he knew Davidson had evil on his mind before the fatal carjacking.
"'He was already making suggestions like he wanted to go—he never said he was going to go and do it,' Cobbins said, though he didn't elaborate."
[Carjack/slaying trial, Day 4: 'They were crazy man': suspect defends inaction by Jamie Satterfield, Knoxville News Sentinel, August 20, 2009.]
"Do it"? Do what?
Amazingly, neither investigators nor prosecutors ever asked Cobbins what "it" was. (See my concluding comments).
Of course, when politically correct law enforcement officials seek to deny the racial motivation of a transparently racially-motivated black-on-white crime, any old pretext—or its opposite—will do.
Thus, we have the Knox County authorities and Main Stream Media describing "as a carjacking gone wrong" an act in which there is no evidence of any carjacking motive (since the vehicle was almost immediately dumped, rather than being kept or sold), or kidnapping (since the abductors never showed any interest in ransom).
This MO by authorities and the media is the equivalent to their practice, when confronted with a black stranger murdering a white without any attempt to rob him or evidence of any other conventional motive, of calling the crime "a botched robbery". But the motive often isn't the one for which there is no evidence, namely robbery, but the obvious one—racial murder.
Thus, notoriously, when California authorities were confronted in the early 1970s, with anywhere from 70-270 black-on-white stranger murders in which no conventional motive played a role, they initially employed the euphemism "motiveless murders", and ignored what was really happening: the Nation of Islam's anti-white mass murder campaign.
Authorities later adopted secondary euphemisms, such as "botched robberies".
But in the Knoxville case, rather than avoid the race issue, as Wichita Massacre DA Foulston had done, the authorities aggressively misrepresented the facts. Acting as if they were working for the various defense teams, Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols' office and sheriffs Sterling Owen IV and his successor, Jimmy Jones, cited the fact that Lemaricus Davidson had been sleeping with a white female as grounds for denying that the crime was racially motivated.
In variously handcuffing themselves from seeking the truth, lying about the killers' motive, and misrepresenting the known facts from the get-go, the Knoxville authorities opened the door to defense attorneys to lie with abandon. The police and prosecutors' lie, that the Knoxville Horror was "a carjacking gone wrong", opened the door for the defense to substitute its own lie. As Jamie Satterfield reported in the October 20 Knoxville News Sentinel, "The defense is continuing, via cross-examination, to label the slayings the result not of a carjacking gone bad but a drug deal gone bad."
The defense further asserted that that it was the "the gang from Kentucky" (i.e., every defendant except Davidson), who had raped, beaten, tortured and murdered Christian and Newsom.
How about we use the known facts, for a change?
The blogger A Race Against Time has formulated a theory regarding Davidson's motive based on the recent release of the police transcript of the January, 2007 interrogation of Lemaricus Davidson's white former girlfriend, Daphne Sutton. It has the virtues of both evidence-based plausibility and simplicity:
"The Knoxville torture slayings in a nutshell: Naive white girl falls for black boy. Black boy beats white girl. White girl finally leaves black boy. Black boy and his black friends take out their anger by raping, torturing, and killing the first white couple they come across….
"Sutton revealed to police that she had only known Davidson for two weeks when she moved in with him at 2316 Chipman Street [the murder house]. She said she had never dated a black man before, and her mind was clouded by drugs:
'I've been living with my parents for like a year and a half, and I really can't stand it. You know how it is, living with your parents. So I met him, and he was getting this house and asked me to move in with him, and I guess just the first person to take care of me I jumped into.
'I don't even date black guys, my kids are white, so I don't know what the hell I was thinking. I really don't. Maybe, I don't know, the drugs, the weed.'
[NS: According to Cobbins, Davidson was a drug dealer.]
"Davidson regularly beat Sutton, and eventually she left him and moved out. The very next night, Davidson and some of his black friends carjacked a white couple that was out on a date. Letalvis Cobbins, Davidson's brother, testified that Christian and Newsom 'was uh kissing in the car or whatever' when Davidson carjacked them and drove them back to his Chipman Street home…."
"There's no question these crimes were racially motivated. Davidson was angry his white girlfriend had left him, and when he saw a young white couple kissing he snapped and decided to take his anger out on them. The Knoxville authorities didn't quite see things this way.
"Astonishingly, the authorities considered the fact Davidson's white girlfriend had just left him to be a mitigating factor in their decision not to seek hate crimes charges…
"Imagine a white male trying to claim he can't be charged with a hate crime because he has socialized with black people in the past. People would just laugh. In fact, a 14-year-old white boy in suburban Chicago was charged with a hate crime last year for using a racial epithet toward his black girlfriend after she broke up with him.
[Why White Girls Go Black and What Happens When They Go Back, A Race Against Time, October 14, 2009.]
My conclusion: Since the 1960s, America's white elites have repeatedly sought to make what Peggy Noonan has called—though without addressing the racial subtext—"a separate peace" for themselves with non-Asian-minority (NAM) elites. The deal entails racially sacrificing qualified white university and job applicants, and candidates for promotions, on behalf of unqualified NAMs through affirmative action; racially sacrificing whites to NAM criminals of all ages; lying about the sacrifices; and, of course, inventing the Orwellian category of "hate crimes" which—as the Wichita and Knoxville cases suggest, and Attorney General Holder recently made clear—cannot be committed against ordinary American whites.
Each time, black and Hispanic elites humor the white elites, cut the deal, generously sacrifice more non-elite whites—and soon thereafter, tear up and re-negotiate the deal.
At each re-negotiation, there are more NAMs making wilder demands, and fewer non-elite whites to sacrifice.
Noonan quotes an anecdote from Christopher Lawford's book lawford Symptoms Of Withdrawal about his uncle Teddy Kennedy (of all people) in his old age:
"[Kennedy] took a long, slow gulp of his vodka and tonic, thought for a moment, and changed tack. 'I'm glad I'm not going to be around when you guys are my age.' I asked him why, and he said, 'Because when you guys are my age, the whole thing is going to fall apart.' "
"The statement hung there, suspended in the realm of 'maybe we shouldn't go there.' Nobody wanted to touch it. After a few moments of heavy silence, my uncle moved on."
The time-bomb is ticking.
(I wish to thank reader "D", who served as my unofficial research assistant, for his invaluable help during this trial.)
Nicholas Stix [email him] lives in New York City, which he views from the perspective of its public transport system, experienced in his career as an educator. His weekly column appears at Men's News Daily and many other Web sites. He has also written for Middle American News, the New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Chronicles, Ideas on Liberty and the Weekly Standard. He maintains two blogs: A Different Drummer and Nicholas Stix, Uncensored.