The first state trial for the Knoxville Horror carjacking-kidnapping-gang-rape-torture-murders, which claimed the lives of Channon Christian, 21, and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, 23, was scheduled to begin on Monday, with defendant George Geovonni ”Detroit” Thomas in the dock. Instead, it will begin on August 10–August 10, 2009, that is.
Thomas’ trial had originally been scheduled to be the last of the four state capital trials, in each of which, in the event of a murder conviction, Knox County (TN) State Attorney General Randy Nichols will be seeking the death penalty. However, the April federal trial of accessory Eric Boyd revealed that the state had no DNA evidence tying Thomas to either the anal gang-rape of Newsom, or to the oral, vaginal, and anal gang-rapes of Christian, and thus that the case against him was the weakest of the four. When the defense teams in the other three capital trials petitioned for and received postponements until 2009, reasoning that the prosecution would seek to use those trials to bolster its case against Thomas, his attorneys petitioned that his trial be moved up one year, back to its original date. The petition was granted by the court.
The prosecution retaliated by producing new evidence (which it had previously gotten permission from the court to delay providing the defense teams) by the cartload, which the defense had insufficient time to review for an August, 2008 trial, whereupon Thomas’ team cried uncle.
At present, the first state capital trial in the case, of Letalvis ”Rome” Cobbins, is scheduled to begin on January 26, 2009. Co-defendants Vanessa Coleman and Cobbins’ half-brother, Lemaricus ”Slim” Davidson, are scheduled to go on trial on April 13 and June 22, 2009, respectively.
By the way, Boyd was convicted on April 16 of being an accessory, after the fact, to the carjacking, for helping Davidson evade arrest. Federal prosecutors David Jennings and Tracy Stone implied that Boyd was guilty of the carjacking and murders, as well, and that he might yet be charged with those crimes. However, they and their state counterparts would do well to put their pants on one leg at a time. A potential problem which the April 16 conviction may raise on appeal is that, in presuming that Davidson was guilty of carjacking, which remains to be proven, Boyd’s trial was prejudicial. Davidson won’t be tried on the state charges prior to 2009, and if he is convicted in state court for murder and sentenced to die, that would moot any issue of punishment for carjacking, which is a federal crime.
Given the above-cited conditions, could a criminal attorney please weigh in on the validity of Boyd’s conviction? Thanks in advance.