Christian Newsom murders: mom always thought Boyd killed her son
Jury selection begins Monday in Knox County in the long-awaited murder trial of Eric D. Boyd. He is accused of the murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee – WBIR’s hammer-to-hammer live coverage of the Eric Boyd trial can be found here.
Suspicion has hung over Eric D. Boyd for years.
Now a Knox County jury is deciding whether the 47-year-old convict is indeed a kidnapper, rapist and killer.
More than 12 years after the crimes, the Knoxville man will finally stand trial in the torture murders of Chris Newsom, 23, and Channon Christian, 21, in January 2007. Jury selection begins on August 5.
Boyd was friends with the ringleader, Lemaricus Davidson. He helped hide Davidson days after the bodies of the victims were found at or near Davidson’s.
Some of Davidson’s co-defendants even said Boyd took part in the kidnappings and then went to Davidson’s rental cottage.
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But until April 20, 2018, Boyd had never been directly charged with the kidnapping, rape or murder of any of the young Knox Countians.
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Newsom’s parents have been waiting for Boyd’s lawsuits for years. Indeed, they worked to convince a potentially key witness – the co-accused George “G” Thomas – to testify against Boyd.
“I’ve always had a mother’s instinct that he was the one who murdered my son,” Chris Newsom’s mother, Mary, told 10News.
About 80 potential jurors will come Monday morning to be questioned. Others can be invoked if necessary.
Jury selection is expected to take a few days and authorities estimate the trial will last no more than two weeks.
Born in 1972, Boyd has long-standing ties to Knoxville, including his family here. He spent at least part of his childhood in Lonsdale and collected several petitions from minors for offenses that included vandalism and break and enter.
In his early twenties, it is clear that he was comfortable committing crimes. Indeed, he was breaking the law when his future co-defendants were still children.
He participated in an armed robbery frenzy in 1994 with a co-defendant that paved the way for his friendship with future killer Lemaricus Davidson.
Boyd, known to authorities, blocked nine fast food stores and restaurants in about two and a half months from March 1994.
His goals included a Walgreens on Kingston Pike, a two-time Hardee’s restaurant, a Pizza Hut on North Broadway, a Burger King on Kingston Pike, JT’s Liquor Store on Western Avenue, and an adult bookstore on Clinton Highway.
As he was fleeing the adult bookstore, he fired several shots into the car of someone who had just parked in the parking lot. As he robbed a convenience store on Sutherland Avenue, he believed he saw the clerk reach out for a phone and fired two shots in his direction, hitting an antifreeze screen, according to records.
While robbing Hardee’s on May 5, 1994, he fired shots in the ceiling of the restaurant, according to records. During the Walgreens heist, Boyd jumped over the drugstore counter, forced people to lie on the floor, and took money from the cash register.
As prosecutors will later notice, Eric Boyd clearly had little regard for human life.
While in jail for the thefts, Boyd struck up a friendship with Lemaricus D. Davidson, the West Tennessee son of a crack addict and prostitute who had been convicted of auto theft and of an aggravated theft in September in Madison County, Tenn.
Boyd was nine years older than Davidson. By early 2007, both were released from prison and lived in Knoxville.
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Davidson rented a tiny two-bedroom house on Chipman Street near the waste collection company Waste Connections. He had shared the house with his girlfriend Daphne Sutton until they had an argument over Christmas and she moved out.
Nicknamed “Slim,” Davidson sold drugs for a living. In early January, his brother, Letalvis Cobbins, Cobbins girlfriend Vanessa Coleman, and their friend George Thomas took a tour of Kentucky to stay at the Chipman Street house.
Neither of them had a job either. Thomas liked to sit in the house smoking weed.
Neither Davidson nor his brother had a car. But Boyd, nicknamed “E,” had one he could borrow from a cousin.
On the night of January 6, 2007, Davidson had promised to stop by and see a woman living in the Washington Ridge apartment complex about 3.5 miles from Washington Pike. He owed her money that he really didn’t have.
Coincidentally, Chris Newsom and Channon Christian were hanging out in the same complex, where a friend of Channon lived. The young couple planned to go to a party that night.
Later testifying at his own murder trial, Cobbins would recall that Boyd had agreed to drive Davidson to Washington Ridge, and Cobbins accompanied them.
“They had no transportation unless Eric Boyd provided it,” Hugh Newsom later recalled.
Coleman also later told investigators that Cobbins left the house that night with Davidson and Boyd.
Cobbins claimed the men were on a cruise trying to find him a girlfriend, although he already had Coleman waiting at Chipman Street. In truth, Davidson started looking for someone to carjack.
Newsom and Christian were in the parking lot near his Toyota 4Runner, kissing. For Davidson, they were a perfect target.
Cobbins testified that as they looked, Boyd and Davidson ran towards the Toyota.
“My brother and E. – they hijacked these people,” he said.
Boyd and Davidson took control of the vehicle. Cobbins slipped behind the wheel of the vehicle borrowed from Boyd.
Back to Chipman Street, they went.
Thomas and Coleman later told police that Boyd entered the Chipman Street home after the carjacking.
Cobbins recalled during his testimony seeing Davidson enter the house at one point with “the girl”.
“Eric Boyd comes up behind him holding the guy. The girl has a bandana around her eyes and her hands in front of her. E walks in with the guy, holding his arm. I notice the guy has a bandana around his eyes and his hands are tied behind him. “
A Waste Connections worker named Xavier Jenkins has testified in multiple trials that he saw four black men in what turned out to be Christian’s Toyota around 12:30 am on January 7 near the Chipman Street home. Jenkins can share his story once again; he is listed as a witness for Boyd’s trial.
Thomas told investigators he saw Boyd driving a blindfolded Chris Newsom, or “Old Boy, as he called him,” out of the house and into the night.
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An autopsy would show Newsom was raped and assaulted with an object. The rapist left behind semen, but analysts were unable to make a genetic identification.
The attackers tied Newsom’s feet and hands. He would be driven without shoes – Davidson kept his new Nikes on – through muddy fields to nearby train tracks.
Someone shot him three times in the back, neck and head. He was rolled onto his back, his head wrapped in a hooded sweatshirt and set on fire.
The medical examiner estimated he was dead around 1:45 a.m. on January 7.
Inside Chipman Street, Channon Christian was tied up and held in one of Davidson’s two small bedrooms. The interior had hardly any doors. The defendants would later admit to authorities that they could hear just about anything that was going on in the house.
Davidson raped Christian vaginally and anal. Cobbins cummed on her during oral sex. The medical examiner would testify that she also suffered blunt force and abrasions.
She was tied up, wrapped in trash bags, and left to suffocate in a corner of Davidson’s kitchen in a plastic trash can. Authorities estimate that she died between the afternoons of January 7, 2007 and January 8, 2007.
By this time, everyone in the house had dispersed.
Federal authorities tried Boyd in April 2008 as an accomplice after the carjacking and contempt of a felony. He was not charged with murder or car theft himself.
Cobbins avoided the death penalty during his trial, but is serving a life sentence without parole. Davidson was sentenced to death. A jury found Thomas guilty of 38 counts, including murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping. Coleman was convicted of facilitating numerous crimes.
Testimony at Boyd’s federal trial showed he helped hide Davidson after Davidson abandoned the Chipman Street house, helping him find an empty house on Reynolds Street near Western Avenue, in the Mechanicsville neighborhood.
He devised a code system using cell phones so that the two friends could talk.
Boyd also betrayed Davidson on Jan. 11, authorities said. When police stopped him in traffic, Boyd promised to drive them to Davidson, saying he “wasn’t going to spend time in jail,” according to federal records.
Boyd agreed to a follow-up interview with Knoxville Police. He has shown that he knows a lot about the crimes, even though he claims all of this information came from what Davidson told him.
Much of the evidence already gathered in the crimes has already been presented in federal trials and during the trials of Davidson, Cobbins, Thomas and Coleman. This has already been reported in the media.
Knox County prosecutors offered no clues until Boyd’s trial. Their witness list, however, has one potentially significant name: the co-accused George Thomas.
As 10News reported last week, Thomas was transported from a northeast Tennessee jail to Knox County for the Boyd trial.
Thomas frustrated interrogators after being questioned. He hemmed and hawed, dodged the answers, remarked over and over again, “You know what I’m saying.”
But Thomas was there as the carjackers left. He was there when they returned with Christian and Newsom blindfolded.
He saw Boyd leading Newsom through the night. He surely knows more than he ever suggested.
Gary Christian, Channon’s father, will attend the trial, as will Channon’s mother, Deena Christian, and the Newsoms.
Gary Christian remembers Boyd smiling at him once in federal court. He told 10News after Boyd was indicted that he was not looking forward to further hearings.
“I’ll be happy when it’s over, but hopefully we get what we’re looking for.”
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