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Horror in Knoxville update: Cobbins guilty of 1st degree murder

By Michelle Malkin  •  August 25, 2009 12:33 PM

Just in this afternoon after eight days of trial against the first defendant in the Christian/Newsom kidnap/murder case. One guilty verdict down, three to go:

Jurors this morning convicted Letalvis Cobbins of first-degree murder in the torture-slaying of Knox County couple Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.

The verdicts were announced before a packed crowd, including the Christian and Newsom families, in Knox County Criminal Court.

Jurors will now shift into a penalty phase before Baumgartner in which they will consider evidence about whether he should be executed.

Cobbins was dry-eyed looking at family as the verdicts were read to a silent courtroom. His family was weeping and was hustled out of the courtroom by security as the judge recessed for the day.

The Christian and Newsom families showed no reaction during the reading of the verdicts, but were crying and patting each other on the back at the conclusion.

The panel from Davidson County heard six days of testimony and deliberated about seven and a half hours Monday and about three hours this morning before returning the verdicts.

Testimony wrapped up Saturday with Cobbins, 26, taking the stand in his own defense.

Cobbins was convicted of first-degree murder of both Christian, 21, and Newsom, 23, in the January 2007 kidnapping.

The jury found Cobbins guilty in all rapes of Christian, and not guilty in the rape of Newsom.