George Thomas Guilty Spared death Penalty
by Lewis Loflin
George Geovonni "Detroit" Thomas, 27, faces a total of 46 charges. Thomas was indicted on 16 counts of felony murder growing out of the rape, robbery, kidnapping, and theft of Christian and Newsom, 2 counts of premeditated murder, 2 counts of especially aggravated robbery, 4 counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, 20 counts of aggravated rape, and 2 counts of theft. Will be tried next.
Jamie Satterfield of the Knoxville News Sentinel (11/17/2009) noted of the Thomas trial, "No eyewitnesses. No forensic proof. Circumstantial evidence. Drug-using witnesses. DNA pointing, not to Thomas, but his three co-defendants" as chief prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald played down expectations.
She had to convince the five men and seven women (one of the women was black) of Thomas' "criminal responsibility." because of pretrial publicity Judge Baumgartner brought in jurors from Hamilton County.
Defense attorney Tom Dillard has a big problem anyway in that Thomas confessed to being at the Chipman Street house in Knoxville when Channon Christian and Chris Newsom were inside the house. The defence went on it wasn't his fault what others did. But Thomas' own words revealed why this should have been a racial hate crime.
According to Knox County Sheriff's Office Detective Nevil Norman Thomas told him "fuck that white girl, she don't mean nothin' to me. You cops come into my neighborhood and kill us. Why should I get involved in something that is none of my business?"
This isn't first racial comment in this case as earlier witnesses testified to racial hatred of carjacker Eric DeWayne "E" Boyd who got 18 years in prison for lesser charges. Knoxville officials are desperate to keep race out of this because the killers were black and blacks are always considered the victims under political correctness.
Norman claimed he said this after a tape recorder had been turned off. He was "shocked" and didn't write it down for 17 months later on June 2008 after he told Prosecutors. Defence Attorney Dillard questioned Norman on this who replied that, "so much other stuff in this case we were trying to get organized I just didn't write it down." Dillard claimed this was not an admission, but in fairness where was council for Thomas? "It's not relevant," Dillard said. "It is highly prejudicial."
The Prosecution countered, "We think it goes straight to motive," Price said. "What a jury is going to want to know is how you can witness ... these horrors and not do anything, and there's your answer. (Christian) meant nothing to him. He was just out for himself." Prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald also wanted to use a phone call Thomas made to Stacy Lawson (girlfriend) he made in jail.
In the end Judge Richard Baumgartner allowed Detective Nevil Norman's account of the unrecorded exchange about Thomas racist' remarks to be "credible." and "it is admissible." His ex-girlfriend Stacy Lawson will also be testifying in the case as well.
As the trial raged on the earlier tactic of the attorneys of convicted ringleader Lemaricus Davidson (sentenced to death) there was none of this presenting the victims as out to buy drugs. As the press noted of the Prosecution,
"...they have a circumstantial case built around Thomas' own concession he knew co-defendants Lemaricus Davidson and Letalvis Cobbins were cooking up a carjacking, that he was in the tiny Chipman Street house where the couple was brutalized, took a ride in Christian's carjacked Toyota 4Runner and cared not one whit about the pair's fate."
Yet defence attorney Dillard countered,
"George Thomas didn't do anything. He did not rob anyone. He did not kidnap anyone. He did not rape anyone. He did not kill anyone. What's this case about? It's about what George Thomas didn't do. It's about his failure to act. George Thomas was basically detached. He sat in a corner. He smoked his (marijuana) blunt. George Thomas minded his own business. Believe me, that is reprehensible, but it's not criminal."
On day three of the trial the jury got to hear the recording of a phone conversation between Thomas and ex-girlfriend Stacy Lawson while he was being held Grayson County Detention Center in Kentucky after being arrested in Lebanon, Ky. This was an argument that went on between them over Thomas doing nothing to stop the killing.
Lawson, "Why didn't anybody fucking call (police)? Why didn't you?"
Thomas, "Come on now.
Lawson, "I mean, that girl did not deserve the (expletive) that she was (expletive) put through. Neither did that boy."
Thomas, "Should've, would've could've but didn't."
On day four Thomas said in a tape recorded statement he knew Davidson and Eric Boyd planned to pull off a carjacking, "When they said they was leaving to go get the car, I'm like, OK, you know what I'm saying, and then they came back with them, them, folks," Thomas said. "I'm like OK, you know, OK, know they steal a car, not the people that's in it."
Thomas admitted seeing Channon Christian blindfolded and being led to a bedroom while blindfolded Chris Newsom being led out of the house shortly after being brought inside. He said Boyd led Newsom out at gunpoint. Thomas claimed he, Cobbins, and Vanessa Coleman went to another drug dealer's house and when they returned to Chipman Street the next day, the victims weren't there.
On December 6 the State rested its case. Defence attorneys Tom Dillard and Steve Johnson asked Judge Richard Baumgartner to toss the case out and not even goes to the jury. To quote the Knoxville News Sentinel (Dec. 6),
"More than half of the state's case last week was devoted to showing proof of the guilt of Davidson and Cobbins, both of whom have already been convicted. But as Dillard repeatedly pointed out during the trial, the pair of prosecutors presented no evidentiary link between Thomas and any of the crimes.
The best the state could offer, in fact, was testimony from a Kentucky rapper who said she saw Thomas handling small-caliber bullets the night before his arrest. Those bullets, however, were not found during a search of her house."
The Hamilton County jury in the end convicted Thomas, 26, of all counts in the 46-count document ranging from felony murder to first-degree murder to robbery, rape and kidnapping. They deliberated about six hours over two days in reaching their decision.
The victims parents were delighted with the sweeping verdict. But to the parents dismay after two hours of deliberation the jury sentenced Thomas to life without parole. Of the four so far convicted in this case only Lemaricus "Slim" Davidson has been sentenced to death.
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- Early News reports on Christian/Newsom Killings Hide Race of Killers
- Rape, Mutilation, and Murder: The Christian/Newsom Story
- George Thomas Guilty, Spared death Penalty
- Vanessa Coleman Convicted, Kept Journal of Crimes
- Death Row Tennessee: 30 Years is Too Long
- Channon Christian and Chris Newsom: facts versus rumors
- Eric Boyd Found Guilty
- Letalvis "Rome" Cobbins Found Guilty
- Lemaricus Davidson Goes on Trial, Found Guilty
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