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DEATH: Davidson at maximum security prison

7:44 PM, Oct 31, 2009   |    comments
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A Tennessee Department of Correction official confirms Lemaricus Davidson arrived at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution on Friday night on death row.

The jury in the Lemaricus Davidson double murder trial has recommended the death penalty for the murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.

That same jury found him guilty on each count against him, in each count choosing the most serious offense, with the exception of the direct rape of Chris Newsom.

The imposition of the death penalty puts Lemaricus Davidson on track to face death by lethal injection, which is Tennessee's default method of execution. Death row inmates who committed their offenses before January 1, 1999 can choose the electric chair.

Davidson would instead face the needle.

Tennessee's lethal injection method is a cocktail of three drugs.

The first, sodium thiopental, is an anesthetic at a dosage that essentially puts the recipient into a rapid-onset coma.

The second drug, pancuronium bromide, is a muscle relaxant at a dosage that stops the recipient's breathing.

The final drug, potassium chloride, induces cardiac arrest.

Davidson's path to the execution chamber is unlikely to be a swift one. The state of Tennessee has executed five inmates in the last decade.

Those men spent an average of 19 years on death row. That average is skewed downward slightly by Daryl Holton, who was executed after only 8 years. Holton dropped his appeals, attempted suicide while on death row, and opted for the electric chair.

Tennessee's death row inmates have a longer road to the execution chamber than the national average.

Nationwide, the average is 12 years and 9 months, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics' most recent numbers, in 2007.

The state of Texas has a reputation for strong adoption of the death penalty; on average, a Texas death row inmate spends 10 years and 3 months there.

One Tennessee death row inmate, Donald Strouth, has been on death row for 31 years.

Previous: Verdict reached

The jury in Lemaricus Davidson's murder trial has reached a sentencing decision and will return to the court shortly.

You can watch the announcement of that sentence live on WBIR-TV and wbir.com.

The sentence will be announced at 2:50 p.m.

Previous: Deliberations continue

After a night to absorb the heartbreaking victim impact statements, and the unimaginable stories of Lemaricus Davidson's childhood, a jury came back to Criminal Court Division I to decide if he lives or dies.

The Knox County jury has already convicted Davidson on 38 charges, including the first degree premeditated murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.

Their families say they will accept nothing less than execution for the Memphis native convicted for killing the young couple.

However, the jury has 3 choices which include life in prison with the possibility of parole, life without parole and the death penalty.

Closing arguments started with Takisha Fitzgerald saying Davidson had opportunities that his family members didn't have.

As a teenager, Davidson was in a group home, then became a foster child at age 17.

"Starting at age 16 the defendant had a stable home life.  He had parents who didn't do dope, parents that cared about him he had a male role model in his life," Fitzgerald continued.

Fitzgerald pointed out Davidson's younger sister testifying to the same horrific childhood, but Laquitta Boddie is now working as an animal technican. 

The prosectutor told jurors that just because Davidson's mother smoked crack, that does not excuse him taking the lives of "two kids".

"Clearly the defendant had a rough childhood, mama was on crack he had an unstable home life but that does not excuse,  that does not justify the decisions that he made the first weekend of January 2007,"Fitzgerald told jurors.

Doug Trant started his closing by saying "there are no excuses".

"It's easy for lawyers like Ms. Fitzgerald and me to get up here and talk about choices because we were blessed with the ability to get a good career and education and didn't have the start that Lemaricus Davidson had," Trant said.

As Trant finished his statements, he told jurors he knows they do not want to have to make this decision, "but it has to be done."

"I'm going to ask you to spare the life of Lemaricus Davidson.  I'm going to ask you to do it for Alice Rhey,I'm going to ask you do it for Carl Rudd, Seth Rudd, Flo Rudd I'm going to ask you to do it for that little boy who told his mama he had been sexually abused and she was too stoned to care," Trant said.

Death penalty sentences

Judge Richard Baumgartner has never announced the death sentence during his time on the bench.

However, in Criminal Court Division III, Judge Mary Beth Liebowitz has witnessed two juries in recent years deliver the death sentence to both a man and a woman.

Dennis Suttles was given the death penalty on November 4, 1997, for fatally stabbing his girlfriend in front of her teenaged daughter.

In March 30, 1996 Christa Pike was sentenced to death by electocution for the murder of a Job Corps classmate.

The most recent death penalty sentence was handed down to by Judge Ray Lee Jenkins to William Torres for the murder of his child on February 25, 1999.  However, it was overturned on November 7, 2002.

The oldest Knox County convicted killer on death row is David Miller.  Miller was sentenced to death on March 17, 1982 for first degree premeditated murder.

Miller is now 52 years old and has been on death row for 27 years.

The prosecutor on Miller's case was Ed Dossett.  The former Knox County District Attorney died in 1992.  Dossett's wife, Raynella Dossett-Leath is charged with his murder.  She goes on trial in August 2010.

The longest serving death row inmate in Tennessee is Donald Strouth who was sentenced to death in 1978 in Sullivan County. 

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