Diversity or Justice? The Knoxville Horror, Letalvis Cobbins, and the Death Penalty
How does a man get convicted, in a capital murder trial, of committing “one of, if not the most, horrendous crimes ever committed in Knoxville, Tennessee,” yet dodge the death penalty? It’s thanks to the oxymoron, “diversity justice.”
“When asked if she could have signed the death warrant if Cobbins had been the ringleader in the crimes, the juror said, ‘I don't want to comment on that.’"
In the case which I have dubbed the Knoxville Horror, on January 6-7, 2007, between five and seven blacks carjacked, kidnapped, beat, tortured, gang-raped and murdered a white couple, University of Tennessee student Channon Christian, 21, and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, 23. (Yes, they raped Newsom, as well.) The crimes were all committed within the City of Knoxville, Tennessee. So far, four people have been charged with murder, and one with being an accessory after the fact. Although at least seven people, black and white alike, have confessed under oath to having also been accessories after the fact, only one has so far been charged.
So far, four participants in the crime have been tried and convicted:
Is that supposed to mean that Thomas is to die in prison, be brought back from the dead, and then begin serving another sentence until he dies all over again? No, the seeming redundancy was likely a compromise because, on the one hand, one or more black jurors refused to mete out justice to one of their own, no matter how heinous the crime; and on the other, because jurors could not trust criminal justice authorities to keep Cobbins in jail for life. Thus, the consecutive “life sentences” are meant to ensure that Cobbins is not paroled or pardoned. However, given the diversity politics of today’s criminal justice system, in which deviancy by certain people is continually defined down, the only way to ensure that a heinous criminal will never be released from prison, is to execute him. In other words, the only real “life” sentence is death.
My reader-researcher David in Tennessee sent along the link to the interview with a black female Nashville juror from the Letalvis Cobbins trial, that I cited at the top, and cite towards the end of this article. Last August, Cobbins was sentenced to “life without parole,” which in practice usually means, “life until parole or pardon.”
In February, Judge Richard Baumgartner extended Cobbins’ “life” sentence to “life, plus 100 years.” Does that mean that his corpse will be stinking up a prison section for 100 years? No; it’s partly rhetoric, meant to confuse the public from a judge who has revealed himself to be an ardent opponent of the death penalty, at least, where black killers are concerned, and partly meant to assure the public that “life means life.” (See above.)
Some people and libertarians will say, “So what’s the big deal? Jurors get to vote their consciences.”
No, they don’t. When each potential juror is put through voir dire in the jury selection process of a capital murder trial (i.e., a trial in which the death penalty is on the table), he must testify under oath on his position regarding the death penalty. If he says that he is opposed to it, he must automatically be excused from jury duty, because his presence on the jury would sabotage any possibility of the defendant being sentenced to death. In order to be eligible to serve on such a jury, a juror must declare himself willing, under certain circumstances, to vote for the death penalty. In the State of Tennessee, those circumstances typically entail aggravating factors being present—e.g., murder in the course of committing a separate felony, such as robbery, rape, or kidnapping; the defendant having murdered more than one person; the murder having been carried out in an especially heinous manner, such as being accompanied by torture; or the defendant having murdered a peace officer, or court or penal institution employee—and the aggravating factors outweighing any mitigating factors.
The problem is that with ever greater frequency, black jurors go into capital murder trials of black defendants planning to sabotage them, either to protect the defendant from execution, or to engage in full-blown jury nullification, and set a murderer free. To that end, blacks routinely perjure themselves during voir dire, regarding their attitude towards the death penalty.
Anyone who follows capital murder prosecutions of black defendants—and the majority of murders in America are committed by blacks, even though they presently make up only 12.1 percent of the population—knows that the only way to preserve the possibility of a heinous killer getting his proper deserts is for the jury composition to be as free of blacks as possible. Conversely, if you are a defense attorney seeking to ensure that your murderous black client not be executed, you try and get as many black jurors seated as possible.
As predominantly white trial judges are increasingly stacking juries with blacks, and predominantly white appeals court judges are increasingly treating a lack of black jurors as grounds for reversible error, much of the judiciary has thus joined with racist blacks to thwart justice for the victims of heinous black killers.
Thus, when Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner—or as I have dubbed him, Judge Mischief—ruled that he was going to have jury selection for the Knoxville Horror in Davidson County, which has three times as many blacks as in Knox County, where the crimes had been committed, I knew that he was seeking to rig the possible sentence, in the case of a guilty verdict, against the death penalty, and I said as much.
Unfortunately, the jury did not disprove my prediction.
More excerpts from the black Cobbins trial juror’s WATE interview follow below:
"A lot of religion kicked in, the Bible, everybody was very emotional. I mean that's somebody's life," she said….
But she said most jurors, including herself, needed little convincing that Cobbins was guilty. "We were trying to see, you know, figure out his part in it, but other than that I guess we were pretty much all together."
Despite Cobbins' attempt on the witness stand to persuade jurors that he was only guilty of raping Channon Christian, the juror said it was his lack of action [to do anything to stop the murders] that ultimately made him criminally responsible for murder.
"I guess by association. I mean that's really it. He had a chance to walk away and he chose not to."
The woman said the trial is an experience she'd like to wipe from her memory, especially the graphic autopsy pictures.
"Just some stuff I've never seen before and I can't believe I am sitting here watching. It was really shocking. It was like something you see in a movie."
She said she's mostly saddened for the victims' families. "It was exhausting and emotionally heartbreaking."
When asked if she could have signed the death warrant if Cobbins had been the ringleader in the crimes, the juror said, "I don't want to comment on that."
It would have been easy for her to lie, and say that she voted against the death penalty, because Cobbins wasn’t the ringleader, but she wouldn’t even say that! Given the gruesomeness of Cobbins’ crimes, and the lack of any comparable mitigating factors, the juror who spoke to WATE had clearly been unwilling to sentence Cobbins to death under any circumstances. That means that she perjured herself during voir dire, in order to save a black murderer who had committed what U.S. Attorney James R. Dedrick had called, without hyperbole, “one of, if not the most, horrendous crimes ever committed in Knoxville, Tennessee.”
Award-winning, New York-based freelancer Nicholas Stix founded A Different Drummer magazine (1989-93). Stix has written for Die Suedwest Presse, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Middle American News, Toogood Reports, Insight, Chronicles, the American Enterprise, Campus Reports, VDARE, the Weekly Standard, Front Page Magazine, Ideas on Liberty, National Review Online and the Illinois Leader. His column also appears at Men's News Daily, MichNews, Intellectual Conservative, Enter Stage Right and OpinioNet. Stix has studied at colleges and universities on two continents, and earned a couple of sheepskins, but he asks that the reader not hold that against him. His day jobs have included washing pots, building Daimler-Benzes on the assembly-line, tackling shoplifters and teaching college, but his favorite job was changing his son's diapers.