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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Potential juror in Lemaricus Davidson case draws reaction

Right: Channon Christian and Chris Newsom

Panelist's answers upset defendant in torture slayings trial
By Jamie Satterfield
Posted September 23, 2009

When his attorneys failed to challenge a law-and-order-minded potential juror Tuesday, the reaction of the alleged ringleader in a pair of torture slayings was immediate.

Lemaricus Davidson threw up his hands in a questioning gesture and whispered feverishly to defenders David Eldridge and Doug Trant.

His reaction might have seemed expected. Davidson is on trial for his life in the January 2007 slayings of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. But this particular jury candidate was black, one of only a few to turn up so far among this predominantly white pool of potential Knox County jurors...
Davidson, who is black, seems more concerned about saving his own skin than the skin color of the people who will determine his fate...

On Tuesday, three black jurors made the cut to be included in that pool. A fourth nonwhite juror also was approved. Nineteen whites have passed muster.

The juror who appeared to upset Davidson Tuesday was a black woman who said she understood the ire over the rejection of the death penalty in Cobbins' case, believes some crimes deserve death as punishment and discounts a bad childhood as cause to spare a killer's life...

"If it was your child, you would want him to die," she said.

"Would it make any difference if the background was no father, a crack addict mother who abandoned her kids?" Eldridge asked.

"No," she answered. "It's (more about) the decision a person makes."

That attitude could have automatically excluded her from the pool, but prosecutor Takisha Fitzgerald quickly set out to rehabilitate her as a potential juror. Fitzgerald explained that the law would require her to consider Davidson's background when weighing his fate.

"I could consider it," the woman then said. "I'd have to hear all the facts."

That answer put her back on the path to potential juror, which drew Davidson's animated response. His defense team announced Tuesday evening that they would file a formal challenge to the woman's inclusion in the jury pool today. It would be up to the judge to decide. For now, she remains a jury candidate...

Once a pool of fair-minded potential jurors are chosen, lawyers on both sides can then kick out 18 each for reasons they don't have to reveal. Baumgartner has set an Oct. 2 hearing for that final round of jury selection.
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