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State v. Thomas

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

February 5, 2015

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
GEORGE GEOVONNI THOMAS

Session November 18, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 86216C Walter Kurtz, Judge

W. Thomas Dillard and Stephen Ross Johnson, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, George Geovonni Thomas.

Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Senior Counsel; Charme Allen, District Attorney General; Leland Price and Takisha Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorneys General for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which John Everett Williams and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.

OPINION

ROBERT W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE

I. Facts

This case arises from offenses surrounding the January 2007 carjacking, robbery, kidnapping, rape, and murder of C.C. and C.N., the victims.[1] The victims in this case were last seen by friends on Saturday night, January 6, 2007. Concern grew when the victims failed to show up at a party that night as planned and when C.C. failed to show up for work the following day, Sunday, January 7, 2007. Family and friends located C.C.'s abandoned silver Toyota 4Runner on Sunday night, January 7, 2007, at the intersection of Glider Avenue and Chipman Street in Knoxville, Tennessee. In the days following the victims' disappearance, C.C. was found dead in a garbage can inside 2316 Chipman Street, a residence leased to Lemaricus Davidson and Daphne Sutton, and C.N.'s body was found next to railroad tracks that ran behind 2316 Chipman Street.

A Knox County grand jury charged the Defendant with forty-six counts[2] for his role in these crimes. The Defendant was charged with multiple counts of first degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated rape, and theft. Three co-defendants were also charged and convicted for these crimes: Lemaricus Devall Davidson, Letalvis Darnell Cobbins, and Vanessa Coleman.

At trial, Josh Anderson, C.N.'s best friend, testified that on Saturday, January 6, 2007, he and C.N. played golf together. After golf, the two men went to Mr. Anderson's residence where C.N. spoke with his girlfriend, C.C., to make plans for the evening. C.N. arranged to drop Mr. Anderson off at a mutual friend's party and then take C.C. to dinner before the couple returned to join their friends at the party. C.N. drove Mr. Anderson in C.N.'s Chevy 2500 HD pick-up truck to the location of the party and then left to pick up C.C. at Kara Sowards's apartment and take her to dinner. Mr. Anderson said that he became concerned at around 10:00 p.m. when C.C. and C.N. had not arrived at the party as planned. Mr. Anderson placed telephone calls to both C.C. and C.N.'s cell phones, but neither phone was answered.

Mr. Anderson testified that he and a friend drove to Kara Sowards's apartment to see if they could find the couple. When they arrived, C.N.'s truck was parked in the parking lot, but C.C.'s vehicle, a silver Toyota 4Runner, was not there. The men knocked on the apartment door, but no one answered. It began raining, so Mr. Anderson retrieved the golf clubs that he and C.N. had left in the back of C.N.'s truck earlier in the day. While doing so, he looked inside the truck to see if C.N. had inadvertently left his cell phone in his vehicle as an explanation as to why C.N. had not answered any of his telephone calls. Mr. Anderson stated that he did not see C.N.'s cell phone inside the truck.

Mr. Anderson testified that the next morning, Sunday, January 7, 2007, he learned that C.C. had not shown up for work, which he described as a "red flag." Later in the day, Mr. Anderson learned of the area where C.N. and C.C.'s cell phones had last accessed a cell tower, and he joined a group in searching that area. It was in this area that C.C.'s 4Runner was found. Mr. Anderson said that C.C.'s vehicle was pulled off the road in the grass and stickers that had once been on the outside of the windows of the vehicle had been removed. He described one of the stickers as a "Power T" sticker. He also noted that the front seats in the vehicle were "leaned back really far, " and there was mud inside, which he found inconsistent with how C.C. normally maintained her vehicle. Mr. Anderson said that he also noted a pack of Newport cigarettes in the car, which he thought strange because neither C.C. nor C.N. smoked cigarettes, and a cell phone charger that had been "ripped apart."

Mr. Anderson identified a photograph of the UT hat that C.N. had worn while playing golf on January 6, 2007. The photograph was taken of the hat after police had recovered the UT hat from a house located at 2316 Chipman Street. Mr. Anderson testified that he did not know the defendants charged in this case nor was he familiar with the residence at 2316 Chipman Street. He stated that neither C.C. nor C.N. knew the Defendant or any of the co-defendants or had ever been to the residence at 2316 Chipman Street prior to these offenses.

Kara Sowards testified that in January 2007 she lived at the Washington Ridge Apartments. She stated that her best friend, C.C., did not live with her but stayed at the apartment occasionally. Ms. Sowards recalled that C.C. arrived at her apartment at around 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 6, 2007. The two ran an errand together and then returned to the apartment to get ready for a birthday party at a friend's house. Ms. Sowards left for the party at around 8:00 p.m., while C.C. remained at the apartment waiting for C.N. to take her to dinner before the couple joined their friends at the party.

Ms. Sowards testified that she had been at the party for about an hour when she saw, through the bay window, C.N.'s truck pull into the driveway. When she didn't see C.C. and C.N. come in the house with the others that arrived at that time, she asked Mr. Anderson about C.C. and C.N. Mr. Anderson told her that C.N. had left to go pick up C.C. for dinner.

Ms. Sowards said that she immediately called C.C. to notify her that C.N. was on his way since C.C. had been waiting for C.N. for an hour. Approximately an hour and a half later, Ms. Sowards called C.C. again to see why she and C.N. had not arrived at the party. C.C. did not answer her phone, so Ms. Sowards sent a text message asking C.C.'s location. Ms. Sowards said that it was unusual for C.C. not to respond to Ms. Sowards's telephone calls or text messages. Ms. Sowards continued to call C.C.'s phone throughout the evening with no response.

Ms. Sowards testified that she returned from the party to her apartment at around 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, January 7, 2007. She said that she parked her car next to C.N.'s truck, thinking it was odd that his vehicle was in the parking lot, but C.C.'s vehicle was not. She explained that normally C.N. drove when he and C.C. went out together. When she went inside her apartment, she did not find C.C. or C.N..

Ms. Sowards testified that she awoke at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, January 7, and once again called C.C.'s cell phone. She said that, this time, the phone went directly to voicemail without ringing. Later that day Ms. Sowards learned that C.C. had never arrived for work at the Shoe Department in West Town Mall on Sunday. On Sunday evening, she joined a group of people to search the area where C.C.'s cell phone had last accessed a cell tower. During the search of the area, C.C.'s vehicle was found on the side of the road near the intersection of Glider Avenue and Chipman Street. C.C.'s vehicle normally had several stickers on the windows, but the "Power T" sticker and an "orange North Face sticker" had been removed. Once police arrived and opened the vehicle, Ms. Sowards observed mud inside the vehicle inconsistent with how C.C. maintained her vehicle. She also noticed that the front seats were pushed all the way back and were leaned back to the furthest position.

Ms. Sowards identified photographs of the clothing she saw C.C. wearing on the night of January 6, 2007, before Ms. Sowards left for the birthday party. The clothing items were recovered from 2316 Chipman Street. Ms. Sowards also identified several items of clothing and an iPod that were in C.C.'s vehicle before this incident and were later recovered by the police from 2316 Chipman Street.

Ms. Sowards testified that the area where they found C.C.'s vehicle was several minutes from her apartment but in an area unfamiliar to her. She stated that C.C. had never been to this area before and did not know any of the people charged in this case.

Xavier Jenkins testified that in 2007 he worked as a driver for Waste Connections located on Chipman Street. On Sunday, January 7, 2007, Mr. Jenkins arrived at work at 12:30 a.m. He explained that he worked the third shift, which was from approximately 12:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. When he arrived, he parked in a parking lot outside the gate and waited for his supervisor to arrive to unlock the gate. While waiting for his supervisor, Mr. Jenkins noticed that at the house next door, 2316 Chipman Street, the porch light was on and a 4Runner with illuminated headlights was parked in front of the house. Mr. Jenkins recalled that "it seemed pretty busy for that time of . . . night."

Mr. Jenkins testified that he waited in his vehicle because it was not a "good area of town to be parked in" late at night. After fifteen or twenty minutes, Mr. Jenkins drove to a nearby gas station and called his supervisor who explained he was running late. Mr. Jenkins said that he went into a nearby market to get peanut M & M's and a Pepsi and then returned to Waste Connections to continue to wait for his supervisor. He recalled that it was close to 1:00 a.m. by this point and that, as he waited, he noticed the 4Runner that was parked in front of the residence at 2316 Chipman Street "pull off." He stated, "And they pulled out and pulled around to actually look at me. . . . [W]hat struck me as kind of odd is that they slowed down to kind of check me out to see who I was." As the vehicle passed him, he saw four individuals in the 4Runner that appeared to be black males. Mr. Jenkins said the men seated in the 4Runner were "slumped down" and staring at him intently in a manner he described as "mean mugging." He said that all four men were looking directly at him as they slowly passed by.

Mr. Jenkins testified that, at the end of his work at 6:30 or 7:00 a.m., he returned to Waste Connections to clock out. When he arrived, he noticed the 4Runner was now parked in the parking lot he had waited in when he arrived at work at 12:30 a.m. He mentioned to his supervisor, "something's not right with that vehicle." He and his supervisor pulled behind the vehicle and did not see anyone inside. Mr. Jenkins suspected the vehicle was stolen so he looked at the vehicle tags but found that the vehicle was registered in Knox County. As he checked the vehicle tags, he noticed a "T" sticker in the middle of the rear window.

Jerome Arnold testified that in January 2007, he lived at 2124 Chipman Street approximately one block from 2316 Chipman Street. Mr. Arnold recalled that he was watching television at approximately 1:45 a.m. on Sunday, January 7, 2007, when he heard three loud "pops" from the area northeast of his house. He stated there were only three "pops, " "fairly evenly spaced" and fairly close in succession.

Roy Thurman testified that in January 2007, he worked as a sandblaster at R & T Coatings, a powder coating company. Mr. Thurman arrived at work at 7:45 a.m. and waited outside for the owner of the business to arrive and unlock the front gate. As Mr. Thurman waited, he noticed smoke rising up from "the rail road tracks, " an area behind the business at which he worked. He did not give the smoke much thought until later that day when he learned that police had found a body in that same area.

J.D. Ford, a Norfolk Southern Railway locomotive engineer, testified that he arrived at work at around 8:15 a.m. on Sunday, January 7, 2007. Mr. Ford said that, on this particular day, he was doing his "regular run" from Knoxville to Chattanooga. After leaving the yard, he noticed a fire near the train track. Initially it drew his attention because he thought he saw a log in the fire. As he drew closer he made out the silhouette of a body, so he stopped the train and notified the chief dispatcher who instructed him to wait at that location. Mr. Ford said that he approached the fire closely enough to confirm that the "badly burned" body was an unclothed male. Mr. Ford estimated that he first saw the body between 12:15 p.m. and 12:23 p.m. on January 7, 2007.

Russell Whitfield, a Knoxville Police Department officer, testified that he worked in the forensics unit, and he was called to the crime scene near the railroad tracks. Once there, he photographed evidence around the area where the fire and body were found and collected a multi-colored piece of cloth from the railroad tracks. After finishing his work in the direct area of the fire, Officer Whitfield walked a short distance looking for additional evidence. Approximately fifty yards from the fire area, Officer Whitfield found a long piece of multicolored cloth tied in knots and the broken end of a blue dog leash. He said the cloth appeared to be the same type of material as the cloth he had collected from the railroad tracks, so he photographed and collected both the multi-colored cloth and the dog leash.

Robert Watson testified that in 2007 he worked as a Special Agent for the Tennessee State Fire Marshal. Mr. Watson reported to the area of the fire, which he described as "thick with the briars, " and an area where one would not normally go. Mr. Watson collected several samples from the area and transported the samples to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation ("TBI") for analysis.

Laura Hodge, a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Forensic Scientist, testified as an expert witness in the field of debris microanalysis. She analyzed two samples of soil and rocks collected from the railroad track area for ignitable liquids. Her analysis revealed the presence of "evaporated gasoline range products."

Sandra Bible testified that, in January 2007, she lived at 1121 Glider Avenue located at the corner of Chipman Street and Glider Avenue. Ms. Bible recalled being awakened by police knocking on her front door at 1:45 a.m. on Monday, January 8, 2007. She said that the police wanted to know about a silver 4Runner, unfamiliar to Ms. Bible, parked at the stop sign in front of her house. Ms. Bible said that she had been out on her front porch "about midnight" and that the vehicle had not been parked in front of her house at that time.

Daniel Crenshaw[3], a Knoxville Police Department evidence technician, testified as an expert in print identification. He stated that, on Monday, January 8, 2007, at approximately 2:00 a.m., a patrol sergeant requested that he photograph a vehicle at the intersection of Glider Avenue and Chipman Street that might be related to a missing person report. When Mr. Crenshaw arrived, he found a silver Toyota 4Runner parked on the side of Glider Avenue facing Chipman Street, a little more than two blocks from 2316 Chipman Street. He said that he took photographs, inventoried the vehicle, and processed the exterior nonporous surfaces for fingerprints. Mr. Crenshaw noted in his report that, due to the difficulty of retrieving any "good clean prints, " he believed the 4Runner had been "wiped down."

Mr. Crenshaw testified that he found a bank envelope in a woman's jacket in the back seat of the 4Runner. He developed several fingerprints on the envelope that were a match to Lemaricus Davidson. Mr. Crenshaw stated that he was able to confirm the match between the fingerprints recovered off the bank envelope and Davidson's fingerprints by 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, January 9, 2007. Mr. Crenshaw obtained an address for Davidson, 2316 Chipman Street, and drove by the residence on Tuesday morning, January 9, 2007, before his shift ended at 7:00 a.m. He said that he did not make any contact with the occupants of the residence but merely drove by the address. He said that he could see "a TV or something on inside" but that he saw no sign of activity in the house.

Mr. Crenshaw testified that when he returned to work on Tuesday night, January 9, 2007, he and Timothy Schade, another technician, worked with items police officers had recovered from a search of 2316 Chipman Street during the day. He and Mr. Schade developed identifiable fingerprints on three of the trash bags surrounding C.C.'s body found in the trash bin in the kitchen at 2316 Chipman Street. Mr. Crenshaw matched the print from one of the trash bags to Davidson's palm print. Mr. Schade matched prints taken from the other two bags to Davidson as well. Davidson's prints were also identified on C.C.'s pay stub, a Blockbuster card, a trash bag box, a 9-millimeter magazine, and a photograph of C.C. All of these items were recovered from the residence at 2316 Chipman Street.

On cross-examination, Mr. Crenshaw testified that fingerprints found on items at the crime scene were also matched to Letalvis Cobbins. He confirmed that he was unable to positively match the Defendant's prints to any latent fingerprints obtained in this case.

Keith DeBow, the commander of the Knoxville Police Department's Special Operations Squad, testified that, on Tuesday, January 9, 2007, he assisted the Major Crimes Unit in executing a search warrant at 2316 Chipman Street. He explained that his unit's role was to enter, clear, and secure the residence to allow other officers to continue to investigate these crimes. The investigators attempted to gain entrance and, when they received no response, the Special Operations Squad announced a police presence and entered the residence. As Lieutenant DeBow cleared the residence, he noticed pistol magazines in the bedroom and a carbine rifle in the closet of the bedroom. After clearing the inside of the residence, Lieutenant DeBow entered the kitchen of the residence and noticed a trash can in the corner that was "oddly out of shape." He pointed out the trash can to Lieutenant Fortner and both officers drew their weapons. Lieutenant DeBow approached the trash can with his weapon fixed and opened the lid to find C.C.'s arm exposed among cloth material.

Lieutenant DeBow testified that his squad assisted the Major Crimes Unit with the arrest of Lemaricus Davidson on Thursday, January 11, 2007, at an abandoned house off of Western Avenue in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Joe Cox, a Knoxville Police Department officer, testified that, on Tuesday, January 9, 2007, he assisted in processing the crime scene at 2316 Chipman Street. Officer Cox identified photographs he had taken of the crime scene. Police officers found an ammunition magazine, five .22 caliber long rifle cartridge cases, items used to clean the barrels of firearms, an empty box of .22 caliber rounds, multiple .22 caliber rounds, a .22 caliber cartridge, a gun case, and a carbine rifle. In the kitchen, a spray bottle containing bleach was found in the sink. Police officers also recovered DVDs: "The Manchurian Candidate, " "That's Collateral, " and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin, " each with a label indicating the DVD was from Marion County Public Library in Lebanon, Kentucky. Officer Cox said an iPod with the inscription, "[C.C.], Love You, Mom and Dad, " was found in a plastic container between the bed and the wall in the north bedroom of the house.

Officer Cox testified that three garbage bags were recovered from 2316 Chipman Street. Two were found in the utility room at the rear of the house and one garbage bag was found in the kitchen next to the garbage can containing C.C.'s body. In one of the garbage bags found in the utility room were many clothing items, later identified as C.C.'s, as well as C.C.'s personal items and purse. Baseball caps, shoes, a can of Copenhagen tobacco, and other personal items later determined to be C.N.'s were also found among the garbage bags. Scraps of floral patterned sheets were found in the trash bags as well as an empty bottle of bleach. Also recovered from one of the garbage bags was a burned Tennessee driver's license, identified as C.N.'s license. Big Star blue jeans, C.C.'s purse and identifying items inside, her pay stub from Shoe Department, personal photographs, and notes written to C.C. were also recovered from the garbage bags.

Officer Cox identified a photograph of a red skirt found in the living room of 2316 Chipman Street and a Sears bag with a pair of green pants inside found lying near the table in the living room.

The parties stipulated to the admission of records from the Marion County Public Library reflecting that the four DVDs found at 2316 Chipman Street, "The 40-Year Old Virgin, " "Collateral, " "Man on Fire, " and "The Manchurian Candidate, " were all checked out by the Defendant from the Marion County Public Library in Kentucky.

M.N., C.N.'s mother, testified that in January 2007, C.N. worked at B & F Construction Company as a trim carpenter. She said that C.N. was twenty-three years old at the time and lived at home with her and his father. She recalled that on Saturday, January 6, 2007, he played golf and then came home briefly to shower. When he came downstairs after showering, at about 6:30 or 7:00 p.m., she offered him something to eat, but he declined, stating that he was going to eat with C.C.. She recalled that he wore blue jeans, a navy blue sweater over a shirt, and a baseball cap. M.N. said that C.N. did not return home that night but that his absence initially did not raise concern because he occasionally spent the night at a friend's home.

M.N. testified that she had tried to call C.N. that night but with no response. She said that normally, C.N. "would have always" called her back. On Sunday afternoon, January 7, 2007, C.C.'s mother called and told her that C.C. had not shown up for work. M.N. described C.C.'s absence from work as "highly unusual, " and she grew concerned that "something had happened" to prevent C.N. from returning her telephone calls. Upon receiving this information, M.N. said that she immediately began praying that she could find C.N. She called the police to report him missing and then, at the advice of the police, began calling area hospitals. M.N. said that C.N. was not at any of the hospitals and that it never occurred to her to call a morgue because she thought "something like that couldn't have possibly happened to him."

M.N. testified that she stayed up all Sunday night waiting to hear news about C.N. The following morning, Monday, January 8, 2007, a police detective called and asked if he could come to the house and retrieve "some DNA on [C.N.]" Approximately an hour after the detective came out to the house, he returned to notify the family that C.N. was dead. M.N. said that she did not have much of a memory of the immediate events after she learned of C.N.'s death, explaining, "It was just - - just the most devastating news I had ever heard and nothing that we ever imagined."

M.N. testified that she did not believe C.N. would go to the "Chipman Street area." She stated that, to her knowledge, C.N. did not know any of the defendants. M.N. identified a pair of Nike shoes that C.N. had recently gotten for Christmas and law enforcement officers found in the room where Lemaricus Davidson was taken into custody. She also identified the receipt that she provided to police showing the value of the shoes as $136.56. M.N. identified baseball caps found in the residence at 2316 Chipman Street as C.N.'s hats. One was a Tennessee baseball cap and the other a hat with "B & F Construction" on it. M.N. also identified other items found at 2316 Chipman Street, such as a belt, a can of Skoal tobacco, more hats, a driver's license, a hair brush, and a set of car keys as C.N.'s possessions.

D.C., C.C.'s mother, testified that she, her husband, and their two children had lived in Knoxville since October 1993. C.C. attended the University of Tennessee where she would have graduated in December 2007. D.C. said that C.C. also worked as an assistant manager at Shoe Department in West Town Mall.

D.C. testified that C.C. drove a leased 2005 silver Toyota 4Runner, Sports edition, valued at "around [$]30, 000." D.C. confirmed that C.C. had both a cell phone and her own bank account. D.C. stated that, at the time of these events, C.C. had just cleaned out her closet and had several garbage bags of clothing and items in the trunk area of her vehicle to take to either Planet Exchange and/or Goodwill. D.C. said that C.C. often kept an overnight bag because she stayed frequently at Ms. Sowards's residence since they had similar schedules and would drive one car to classes every day. D.C. described other items such as C.C.'s iPod, a phone charger and various "girl stuff" such as pictures and a little teddy bear that C.C. kept in her vehicle. D.C. stated that, although the car was full of various items, it was always kept clean as part of a promise C.C. had made to her father when she got the car. D.C. said that her husband cleaned the car for C.C. and would "fuss" at C.C. if the inside of the 4Runner was dirty. D.C. explained that the 4Runner was C.C.'s "dream car, " and she and her husband bought it for C.C. because of her good grades and hard work.

D.C. testified about the last time she saw C.C. She said that, on Saturday, January 6, 2007, C.C. was preparing to go into work at noon. D.C. sat in the bedroom with C.C. while C.C. decided what to wear to a friend's birthday party that she would be attending that night after work. D.C. recalled that C.C. selected a pair of Big Star blue jeans and a new navy, white, and hot pink sweater with hot pink shoes to wear to the party later that night. C.C. placed the clothes for the party in a green bag with orange, red, and white stripes with a leather trim that she had received for Christmas. Along with the bag, C.C. took a gray purse with silver trim with her as she left for work. D.C. said that C.C. wore a pair of tan minichords, an orange T-shirt, and a pair of Wallaby shoes when she left their home that day to go to work.

D.C. testified that she did not expect C.C. to come home that night because C.C. planned to spend the night at Ms. Sowards's apartment after the party. C.C. called D.C. at around 5:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, January 6, 2007, to tell her she had left work early and was running a few errands before going to Ms. Sowards's apartment. C.C. called again that night at around 12:35 a.m., and C.C.'s father answered the telephone. C.C. called to say that she had changed her plans and was not going to spend the night at Ms. Sowards's apartment. She told her father that she was at Ms. Sowards's apartment and was going to finish watching a movie before coming home at around 3:00 a.m.

D.C. testified that she could not sleep so she decided to wait up for C.C. to arrive home. At 4:00 a.m. when C.C. had not arrived home, D.C. called C.C.'s cell phone. C.C.'s cell phone rang, unanswered, and then went to the voicemail message. D.C. tried again to call and this time the call went directly to the voicemail message. D.C. said she could not recall whether she tried to call a third time but remembered drifting off to sleep around 5:00 a.m. She woke up at 6:00 a.m. when her husband got up to go to work and continued trying to make contact with C.C. D.C. said it was unusual for C.C. not to return D.C.'s calls.

D.C. testified that at around 3:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon, January 7, 2007, C.C.'s boss from the Shoe Department called to inquire about C.C. because she had not opened the store at 12:00 p.m. that day. D.C. said that this confirmed her "worst nightmare" and that she notified her husband and then began calling hospitals. When none of the hospitals had a "Jane Doe" or person admitted with her daughter's name, she called 911 and reported C.C. missing. She also called C.N.'s family about her concern for the victims. D.C. contacted her cell phone company and found that the last cell phone tower accessed for C.C.'s cell phone was the "Cherry Street tower." Based on this information a group of people did a "grid search" in the area and located C.C.'s 4Runner. D.C. said that she remained at home while the others searched in case someone called the house.

D.C. testified that she had an extra set of keys for C.C.'s 4Runner, so, when the 4Runner was found, she drove to the corner of Glider Avenue and Chipman Street to take the keys to her husband. When she arrived, she noticed that a "Power T" sticker that had once been in the center of the back window was gone. A North Face sticker that had been on the vehicle was also gone. On the back side windows there had been two "tiny Power Ts, " and those were also missing, along with a silver UT license plate. A University of Texas sticker, however, remained on the front windshield of the car.

After the police opened C.C.'s vehicle with the extra set of keys, D.C. noticed that the front seats were moved to the furthest back position where C.C. could not have reached the pedals and that both seats were in a leaned back position. She also noticed that there was nothing in the vehicle. The pictures, the teddy bear, the bags of clothing, iPod, and the phone charger were all gone and there was mud in the vehicle. D.C. identified many of the items that should have been in the car, the clothing C.C. wore, and the bag she carried to work on Saturday, January 6, 2007, as all items that police officers had recovered from the house at 2316 Chipman Street. D.C. also identified her own high school graduation picture that C.C. kept in her wallet as an item recovered from the house at 2316 Chipman Street.

D.C. testified that she had never known C.C. to be in the Chipman Street area and that she was familiar with all of C.C.'s friends because C.C.'s friends "pretty much grew up in our house." She stated that she had never heard of or met any of the defendants.

Randall Nelson, a TBI forensic scientist, testified as an expert witness in the field of chemical analysis. Agent Nelson tested a white tank-top type shirt containing stains. The tank-top was worn by C.C. when police found her body. Agent Nelson tested the stained areas and found the presence of bleach.

Timothy Schade, a Knoxville Police Department evidence technician, testified as an expert witness in the field of print identification. Mr. Schade examined an ammunition magazine found on a shelf in the front bedroom of 2316 Chipman Street. Mr. Schade identified ridge detail on the magazine and compared the ridge detail to identifiable latent fingerprints. Based upon these comparisons, the left middle fingerprint for Lemaricus Davidson and the right middle fingerprint for Letalvis Cobbins were identified. Mr. Schade testified that he collected five garbage bags from the Medical Examiner in connection with the autopsy of C.C. He collected latent prints from three of the five bags and all the prints were matched to Davidson. Mr. Schade stated that he did not find any latent fingerprints on any of the objects tested that were matched to the Defendant.

Linda Littlejohn, TBI Forensic Scientist, testified as an expert witness in the field of forensic microanalysis in the area of physical examination. During this investigation, Agent Littlejohn was asked to examine several pieces of fabric collected during the victims' autopsies, from 2316 Chipman Street, and from the railroad tracks. Agent Littlejohn's analysis confirmed that some of the fabric collected from C.C.'s autopsy and two pieces of fabric from the garbage bag found in the kitchen at 2316 Chipman Street were originally part of the same piece of fabric. As to a piece of burned fabric recovered during C.N.'s autopsy and material recovered during C.C.'s autopsy, Agent Littlejohn found these materials to be consistent with coming from a similar larger piece of fabric, possibly a curtain. She stated that it was possible for all the cloth collected to be apart of "a bedroom suit of some sort" because the fragment pieces submitted were consistent. Agent Littlejohn stated:

There was a pillow sham, a curtain, a curtain tie, two valance curtains, two pieces of fabric that fractured match together to form a complete curtain and seven pieces of fabric that do not form a complete curtain.
They all had the same pattern and color, so, you know, that they could have come from, you know, a bedroom suit of some sort.

Daphne Sutton testified that she began dating Davidson in the Fall of 2006 and that she and her two children moved into 2316 Chipman Street with Davidson. She stated that both her name and Davidson's name appeared on the lease paperwork. After moving into the house, Davidson began "putting his hands on" Ms. Sutton, and the couple began arguing "more." This unrest caused Ms. Sutton to move out of the house with her furniture around Thanksgiving 2006; however, she returned to the residence in December 2006. Ms. Sutton stated that, when she returned, she did not bring her two children with her. She said that in December "[i]t started out fine and ended up the same way, arguing and fighting, " resulting in Ms. Sutton leaving the residence once again on January 5, 2007.

Ms. Sutton testified that in December 2006, she met Letalvis Cobbins, one of Davidson's family members. She recalled also meeting the Defendant, Stacy Lawson, Vanessa Coleman, and Natosha Hays. She said that these people stayed at the 2316 Chipman Street residence and were from Lebanon, Kentucky. She described the sleeping arrangements at 2316 Chipman Street during this time as follows: she and Davidson slept in the front bedroom, Cobbins and Coleman slept in the south bedroom, and the Defendant slept on a "pallet" in the living room. Ms. Sutton recalled the morning of Friday, January 5, 2007. She stated that present in the house were Davidson, Cobbins, Coleman and the Defendant. She recalled that she and Davidson engaged in an argument during which he "put his hands" on her again. She described his physical contact as choking her and then throwing her up against a wall. She said that, because there were no doors throughout the house, she was certain the other parties heard the argument but that no one intervened.

Ms. Sutton testified that no one in the house had a working car, and only Davidson had a cell phone. She left the house after the altercation with Davidson and walked to a nearby gas station to call a friend to come and pick her up. Davidson followed her until she went inside the gas station to use the telephone, and then he turned around and walked away. Ms. Sutton said that her friend Kassie Suttles came and picked her up and took her back to Ms. Suttles's apartment. Ms. Sutton stayed at this apartment for the weekend, and on Sunday, January 7, 2007, she learned that Davidson was trying to contact her. Ms. Sutton explained that she did not have a cell phone but that her friends, Ms. Suttles and Brandy Pressley, with whom she was staying, shared a cell phone. She spoke with Davidson by telephone on Sunday, January 7, 2007, and then immediately went to 2316 Chipman Street, suspecting there was a woman in the house.

Ms. Sutton testified that she arrived at 2316 Chipman Street at around 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 7, 2007, and that Davidson was standing at the front of the house inside the enclosed porch. She noticed that Davidson had put up a blanket in the doorway that led into the living room. Ms. Sutton went inside the house to the bathroom to retrieve her make-up and perfume, but the door was locked. Davidson told her that Coleman was in the bathroom. Ms. Sutton said that she then went through the living room to the kitchen to try to access the bathroom through the south bedroom, suspecting there was a woman in the bathroom. Davidson grabbed her by the arm when she reached the kitchen and asked her what she was doing. She said that both the Defendant and Cobbins were present inside the house at the time but that neither spoke to her. Cobbins was seated in a chair next to the kitchen door, and the Defendant was seated in a chair in front of the entertainment center, rolling marijuana in a cigar. Ms. Sutton said that she never saw Coleman.

Ms. Sutton testified that she walked out onto the enclosed porch, and Davidson handed her a bag of clothing and tried to give her a small amount of cash. Ms. Sutton refused the money but took the bag of clothing and left. Once back at Ms. Suttles and Ms. Pressley's apartment, she began sorting through the clothing and found a red skirt. She thought this was odd because the gang with which Davidson was affiliated "didn't like red, " and Davidson "didn't want [her] to wear red." She stated that the clothing was "supposed to be new, " but clearly was not new. She also noted that the pants were not her size. She immediately called Davidson and questioned him about the clothing, telling him to come and take the clothing away. She said that, from the bag of clothing, she gave a pair of "Glo jeans" to her friend Ms. Pressley before she returned the bag to Davidson.

Ms. Sutton testified that Davidson drove to Ms. Suttles and Ms. Pressley's apartment twice that day. She could not recall on which occasion, but, at one point, she observed Davidson leaving the apartment complex in a 4Runner with an orange T and a North Face sticker on the back window. At some point, Davidson asked her to meet him on a "side road" of Chipman Street. When she picked him up, she noticed that Davidson wore a pair of shoes that appeared "a little small." She later identified a photograph of C.N.'s Nike "Shox" shoes as the ones worn by Davidson that night. Davidson returned to Ms. Suttles and Ms. Pressley's apartment with Ms. Sutton and contacted Vince Wernimont to arrange for Davidson to pick up "money in a brown paper bag" in the trash can at Buddy's Bar-B-Q. Ms. Sutton acknowledged that this arrangement should have raised suspicion, but Davidson was to buy cocaine for himself and pills for the females with the money "so [they] didn't care." After getting the money and drugs, Davidson, Ms. Sutton, Ms. Suttles, and Ms. Pressley returned to the apartment late Sunday night, January 7, 2007, or early in the morning Monday, January 8, 2007.

Ms. Sutton testified that Davidson remained with her throughout Monday, January 8, 2007, and spent Monday night at the apartment. On Tuesday morning, January 9, 2007, Ms. Pressley brought the shared cell phone to Ms. Sutton. Ms. Sutton's mother was on the telephone, informing Ms. Sutton that a dead female had been found inside 2316 Chipman Street. About Davidson's response to this news, Ms. Sutton stated, "I remember [Davidson] was laying beside me and I think he could hear my mom through the phone. Because he was - - his eyes got really big. And as soon as I got off the phone, he just kept saying, please, please - -." Ms. Sutton said that she told Davidson that he must leave but allowed him to remain until "the sun went down, " as he requested. After dark, she dropped him off at a park on Western Avenue beside Ridgebrook Apartments.

Ms. Sutton testified that, while she straightened up around Ms. Suttles and Ms. Pressley's apartment, she found a gun and house keys in Davidson's jacket. She identified a photograph of Davidson's gun. Ms. Sutton identified a photograph of Eric Boyd, a friend of Davidson's from prison. She stated that Mr. Boyd did not like her because "he was Muslim and [she] was white." Ms. Sutton agreed that she knew Ethel Freeman. She said Davidson referred to Ms. Freeman as his aunt. She said that she and Davidson helped Ms. Freeman move, and Ms. Freeman gave them a floral bedroom set that she described as "hideous." Ms. Sutton identified a photograph of the curtains that were part of the bedroom set. She said the curtains had been brand new, still in the original packaging, and she had stored the curtains underneath the kitchen sink at 2316 Chipman Street. Ms. Sutton also identified photographs of portions of the bedroom set collected from the crime scenes that she had stored in the south bedroom closet at 2316 Chipman Street.

Ms. Sutton viewed video footage the police recorded of 2316 Chipman Street and noted that the trash can was normally kept in the utility room and not the kitchen. When asked what appeared "different" in the video footage of 2316 Chipman Street from her memory of the residence, she stated that the presence of the gas can in the residence was "out of place, " and "very unusual." She said that, before, there were no bullet holes in the wall or ceiling of the living room and that a chair was not normally kept in the bathroom nor were there "plates and stuff" in the shower. Ms. Sutton testified that she was not aware of any of the defendants being employed.

On cross-examination, Ms. Sutton testified that, when she returned to 2316 Chipman Street on Sunday, January 7, 2007, she did not see a Toyota 4Runner or Boyd.

Kassie Suttles testified that she worked at Sonic on North Broadway with Ms. Sutton. Ms. Suttles stated that, in January 2007, she knew Davidson through Ms. Sutton. Ms. Suttles recalled receiving a telephone call from Ms. Sutton on Friday, January 5, 2007, after which Ms. Suttles drove to pick up Ms. Sutton from a gas station "off Cherry Street." The two women returned to the apartment Ms. Suttles shared with Ms. Pressley. Ms. Suttles explained that she and Ms. Pressley also shared a cell phone. Ms. Suttles said that, while Ms. Sutton stayed at the apartment, people contacted Ms. Sutton through this shared cell phone.

Ms. Suttles testified that on Sunday, January 7, 2007, she drove Ms. Sutton to 2316 Chipman Street, at around 5:00 p.m. Ms. Suttles described the house as "small." She explained that Davidson had earlier that day been to her apartment in a Toyota 4Runner. When they arrived at 2316 Chipman Street, Davidson was waiting for Ms. Sutton on the front porch. Davidson and Ms. Sutton went inside the house to retrieve Ms. Sutton's belongings while Ms. Suttles and Ms. Pressley remained in the car. Ms. Sutton returned to the car between five and ten minutes later with a bag, and the three women returned to their apartment. Ms. Suttles said that, as Ms. Sutton sorted through the clothing, she stated that Davidson had told her he had bought her new clothes, but the clothing in the bag had been worn. Later that same day, Davidson again came to the apartment. Ms. Suttles looked out the window and saw a Toyota 4Runner. Ms. Suttles said that she observed Davidson get out of the back passenger seat but that she could not see who was in the driver's seat or the front passenger's seat.

Ms. Suttles testified that on Monday, January 8, 2007, Davidson asked if he could stay at her apartment because his "brother" had locked him out of 2316 Chipman Street. Ms. Suttles agreed, and Davidson arrived around midday and stayed throughout the night. On Tuesday, January 9, 2007, Ms. Sutton's mother called and asked to speak with Ms. Sutton. After this telephone conversation, Ms. Suttles and Ms. Sutton drove Davidson to a park next to Ridgebrook apartment complex. Ms. Suttles recalled a pair ...


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