Prayer, song, and blog prompt new murder trial motion

9:23 PM, Dec 28, 2012   |    comments
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Lemaricus Davidson/file

A blog post allegedly written by a juror in a capital murder case is the center of a new motion for retrial.

Convicted murderer Lemaricus Davidson was sentenced the death penalty in October, 2009, for his role in the brutal deaths of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom, who were carjacked, raped, tortured and murdered.

In court documents, Davidson's attorney, David Eldridge, claimed the jury spent most of their time praying and singing hymns, when they were supposed to be deliberating sentencing.

Eldridge sourced a blogger, who he says was juror in the case. The blogger goes by 'ClaytonVol'.

On November 4th, 2009, less than a week after the jury handed down the death sentence to Davidson, 'ClaytonVol' wrote: "Out of the 5+ hours we deliberated, about four of them were spent in prayer and in reading the Bible and reaching the Moral Certainty called for by Law. This was the deciding factor and ultimate factor in our decision. We obeyed both God's law and Man's law."

A court officer during the case signed off an affidavit with attachments that appear to support the blogger's claims.

The former bailiff, Meredith Driskell, affirmed that she provided handwritten notes and eleven pages of of hymns to Assistant District Attorneys Ta Kisha Fitzgerald and Leland Price shortly after the conclusion of Davidson's trial. In the documents, Driskell said the jury requested to have a 'praise service' before deliberating, incorporating songs with a guitar and bible verses.

Eldridge claimed the 'praise service' violated his clients' rights to a fair trial, due process, to an impartial jury, and a fair, reliable, individualized sentencing under the 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th amendments of the United States Constitution. The motion sourced Supreme Court cases, and claims the jury focused on worship rather than its duty to carefully consider the sentencing decision under Tennessee Law.

The Defense also claimed the jury was deliberating and voting on the death penalty prior to the conclusion of the sentencing phase of Davidson's trial and prior to being charged to do so.

'ClaytonVol' blogged "We went back to court on Thursday fully prepared to give a decision of Death or Life in Prison. We went to bed on Wednesday night with that on our minds and hearts. None of us slept well. We were disappointed when Judge B told us on Thursday around 4 that we would need to come back the next day. We had voted and were prepared to stay until midnight to reach a verdict. We did not want to go back to our hotel and think about that another night."

The blogger was not sourced in the motion or affidavit, and it has not been proven whether ClaytonVol was a juror in the case.

The evidential hearing for the motion is set for January 10th, at 9 a.m.

Five defendants, including Davidson, were convicted for their roles in the capitol murder case. Many of the verdicts have been in question since the judge who presided over the state trials, Richard Baumgartner admitted to drug abuse on the bench.

Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas, along with Davidson, have been waiting to learn whether or not they will receive new trials since the scandal unfolded.

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