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Horror in Knoxville update: Trial begins

By Michelle Malkin  •  August 18, 2009 10:37 AM

Longtime readers will remember Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, the young couple brutally murdered in a racially-charged case in Knoxville, TN in 2007. My archives on the case are here.

The trial of the first defendant Letalvis Cobbins began yesterday. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports:

Earlier this afternoon, jurors in the January 2007 slaying of a Knox County couple ended their day with testimony about the grisly discovering of one victim’s body that had been burned beyond recognition.

Norfolk Southern engineer J.D. Ford told jurors he saw the body of Christopher Newsom, 23, lying near railroad tracks in the vicinity of the Chipman Street house where Newsom and girlfriend Channon Christian, 21, were taken after they were carjacked and kidnapped.

A photograph displayed movie-sized on a projection screen in Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner’s courtroom showed Newsom’s body burned from head to toe. His face was unrecognizable.

State arson investigator Robert Watson said an accelerant – likely gasoline – had been poured directly on Newsom’s body and ignited.

Authorities say Newsom was raped, bound, gagged and led to the railroad tracks, where he was shot execution-style.

Christian, they say, was kept alive inside the Chipman Street house for several more hours, repeatedly raped and then stuffed inside a trash can. She suffocated to death.

Today marked the first day of trial for suspect Letalvis Cobbins, the first of four defendants to be tried.