On Saturday January 6, 2007 Hugh Christopher Newsom, age 23 and Channon Gail Christian, age 21, both students at the University of Tennessee went out on a date.
They were driving in Channon’s Toyota 4-Runner when they were carjacked at gunpoint. Suddenly the crime turned far more savage than an armed car theft. Chris and Channon were kidnapped and driven to 2316 Chipman Street where they were forced into the home at gunpoint. While Channon was forced to watch, her boyfriend was raped prison style and then his penis was cut off. He was later driven to nearby railroad tracks where he was shot and set afire. But Channon’s hell was just beginning.
She was beaten; gang raped repeatedly in many ways, had one of her breasts cut off and bleach poured down her throat to destroy DNA evidence-all while she was still alive. To add to Channon’s degradation the suspects took turns urinating on her. They too set her body afire, apparently inside the residence, but for some reason left her body there-in five separate trash bags.
Because the judge in the case who found them guilty and sentenced Davidson to death was addicted to opiates at the time, all his verdicts have been rescinded and now the killers are facing a retrial.
“It was Mr. Davidson’s theory at trial that he knew Channon Christian, had a sexual relationship with her, and that he was not present at the time she and Mr. Newsom were murdered in his residence” by Cobbins, Thomas and Cobbins’ girlfriend, Vanessa Coleman, wrote his attorneys, David Eldridge and Doug Trant.
He also contends Christian and Newsom were not kidnapped but, instead, visited his home to buy drugs. He pointed to testimony Christian and Newsom both had alcohol in their system. Newsom also had marijuana and a stimulant in his system. There also was testimony both on occasion used a drug designed to treat hyperactivity in children but often abused as a stimulant.
Because his version of events clashed with the state’s theory and each side presented witnesses in support of their respective positions, Davidson’s attorneys argue the credibility of those witnesses is just as key as in Thomas’ case. Therefore, they argue, Kurtz has no choice but to grant Davidson a new trial.
There is no forensic evidence tying any of the men to the crimes committed against Newsom.