Latest Tie To Slayings Disputed

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Knoxville News

Federal prosecutors responding to a claim of racism in a high-profile case are making a statement of their own – the lone female suspect in a fatal carjacking held Channon Christian captive in a bathroom when an unexpected visitor arrived.

Defense attorney Phil Lomonaco on Monday filed a motion in U.S. District Court on behalf of accused carjacking accessory Eric Dewayne “E” Boyd accusing federal prosecutors of racial bias. The grounds: Lomonaco said they failed to charge Daphne Sutton, a white woman Lomonaco alleged was inside the Chipman Street house while carjacking victim Channon Christian was still alive. All other suspects in the case, including Boyd, are black. Christian and slain boyfriend Christopher Newsom were white.

In a response filed Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Jennings and Tracy Stone acknowledge that Sutton visited the house, where she once lived with her boyfriend and alleged fatal carjacking ringleader, Lemaricus “Slim” Davidson, sometime after Newsom was killed….

“The evidence known to the United States at this time indicates that Vanessa Coleman was guarding Channon Christian in the bathroom during the five minutes or so Ms. Sutton was there, and that Ms. Sutton had no idea Channon was in the house,” the response stated.

Boyd, charged only as an accessory to the fatal carjacking for helping Davidson to hide out following the kidnapping, rape, torture and slaying of Christian, 21, and Newsom, 23, is set to stand trial before U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan on Monday. Lomonaco is asking Varlan to toss out the case, arguing Sutton also helped Davidson avoid arrest and may even have played a role equal to that of Coleman in the slayings….

Christian, a University of Tennessee student, and Newsom were out on a date when they were confronted by armed suspects who commandeered Christian’s Toyota 4-Runner and forced the couple at gunpoint inside the Chipman Street house where Davidson had been living.

The pair were tortured, beaten and raped. Newsom was killed first, shot and his body set afire alongside nearby railroad tracks. Christian was held captive for several more hours before she was strangled and her body stuffed inside a trash can….

The case has served as a racial powder keg, drawing into the community white supremacy groups protesting the black-on-white crime and spurring complaints that no hate-crime enhancements have been filed. Authorities have insisted the crime was not racially motivated.

In his motion, Lomonaco argues that the crime itself could not have been racially motivated because Davidson had been dating Sutton, who is white….

The prosecutors counter that Lomonaco is trying to play the race card on both sides of the table, arguing earlier this year that the racial overtones of the case were unfairly poisoning the jury pool and slanting media coverage against Boyd and then stoking the fires with his motion.


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