Murder and Double Standards
By Matthew Vadum
Few Americans outside of Knoxville, Tenn., know about the case of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, two young people who were kidnapped, savagely assaulted, raped, and murdered by people of a different race.
If Christian and Newsom had been black, and they had been raped, tortured, and murdered by a group of white people, the victims’ names would be painfully seared into the national psyche by the media’s saturation coverage of the atrocities and their aftermath.
The reason the case attracted so little media attention was because Christian and Newsom were white. All of their attackers were black. Somehow investigators concluded that racial hostility was not a factor in the crimes.
“If this wasn’t a hate crime, then I don’t know how you would define a hate crime,” said Newsom’s mother Mary. “It may have started out as a carjacking, but what it developed into was blacks hating whites. To do the things they did, they would have to hate them to do that.”
It’s worth looking back at this case now to see what we can learn from it. Two weeks after so-called white Hispanic George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin, a black teenager, there is still no end in sight to the self-righteous pontifications of leftists, politicians, race industry profiteers, and the mainstream media.
They all want us to have a national conversation on race. They’ve been pushing this notion for decades, even though race is discussed all the time everywhere in American society. Even though incidents of race-based discrimination have become almost as rare as four-leaf clovers in recent decades, we are constantly told minorities are little better off now than they were during the era of Jim Crow.
Violent crimes involving persons of different races or ethnic backgrounds tend to become national news only when the victim is a member of a minority group. This is because the radical left-wingers who serve as cultural gatekeepers don’t like to give oxygen to stories that challenge their preconceived, politically correct notions of how society works.
Agenda-setters dislike stories that deviate from their preferred narrative. They will lie and distort in order to shoehorn inconvenient events into their bigoted worldview. This is why Americans have been told over and over again that the Tea Party movement is violent and dangerous, while Occupy Wall Street is gentle and benign. This is why we are told Republicans are greedy, heartless, and racist, while Democrats are selfless, compassionate, and color-blind.
But not all stories can be twisted beyond recognition and used to support the leftist party line.
No amount of spin-doctoring can alter the facts of the case of Christian and Newsom, murdered at the ages of 21 and 23, respectively, so they must be ignored.
The unspeakably abominable crimes committed against the couple received media attention in the Knoxville area but have been subjected to an almost total media blackout at the national level because the facts are inconvenient.
What was done to the two young innocents is stomach-churning.
Last year cable TV commentator Nancy Grace, who previously served as Special Prosecutor in the Atlanta-Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney’s office, told viewers that the particulars of the case were “truly some of the goriest details of murder that I’ve ever heard.”
A prosecutor’s aide fainted during the trial when the county medical examiner provided gruesome details about how the two victims died.
The story began the evening of Jan. 6, 2007, when Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23, who were to attend a party, went missing. Knoxville police said Christian’s sport utility vehicle had been carjacked. (WATE-TV has a helpful, brief summary of the case on its website.)
Newsom’s body was found the next day near railroad tracks. Christian’s bound body was found two days later in the trash. She had been forced to watch her boyfriend being raped.
At trial Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan, who performed autopsies on the two bodies, gave evidence.
Newsom’s unrecognizable body was found face up, his feet and arms bound, she testified. He had been gagged with a sock and blindfolded with a bandana. His upper body was burned and his ankles were charred. Newsom had been shot in the neck and the back. A separate gunshot to his head caused “instantaneous death.”
Newsom’s anus was torn up and bruised, which indicated “anal penetration.” He was sodomized by means of an object before being sodomized by a person. Seminal fluid was found in his body but it did not contain sperm cells. DNA tests were inconclusive as to the origin of the semen. He had walked barefoot to his death, wearing only his underwear. He had been raped one or two hours before he died, Mileusnic-Polchan said.
“This is not just a rape,” she said. “This is the blunt trauma where an object comes in contact and severely damages the tissue. The depth of the injury was so grave there was no way that just the regular rape could inflict this.”
Christian’s body was found in a fetal position, wrapped in five garbage bags in a trash can. A small white plastic bag was found around her head. The young woman died of suffocation, the medical examiner said.
Christian’s body was found to have tears, bruising, and swelling in her genitals and around her anus. There was also evidence of blunt force trauma.
Christian was raped several times, vaginally, rectally, and orally and kicked in the vaginal region before she was forced into the garbage can. There were blows to her head and her arms had been handled with force. Her body showed carpet burns.
Bleach had been poured down Christian’s throat in what appeared to be an effort to destroy any residual DNA that might be used as evidence. DNA from two unidentified men was also found in Christian’s underwear, raising the possibility that two persons not charged in the case were involved in raping her. DNA from the man thought to be the group’s ringleader, LeMaricus Davidson, was found on a vaginal swab from a rape kit that authorities used on Christian’s body.
Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, and George Thomas were arrested a few days later and charged with murdering the couple. Later, Cobbins’ then-girlfriend, Vanessa Coleman, was also charged with murder.
Davidson, Cobbins, Thomas, and Coleman were convicted in county court under state law. (The county indictment may be viewed here.) A fifth defendant, Eric DeWayne Boyd, was convicted in federal court for being an accessory after the fact and hiding Davidson. All five defendants were black.
When the murders were first reported, the celebrated syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. mocked white people who complained about the lack of popular outrage over the crimes. He ended one of his screeds with, “Cry me a river.”
Pitts, who recently began a virtually fact-free column with “I am Trayvon Martin,” wrote in 2007 that the Christian-Newsom murders generated “mewling noises from that subset of my white countrymen who feel put upon by big, bad racial minorities.” He described such put-upon whites as part of a “lunatic fringe.”
When Obama was inaugurated for the second time this past January, Pitts opined absurdly that Obama, who rarely misses an opportunity to inject race into even the most random of public discussions, had “assiduously ignored” race and was “mute” on the subject.
Pitts, by the way, is no marginal figure. He won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary in 2004. His views more or less represent the journalistic mainstream in this country.
Al Sharpton, who has eclipsed Jesse Jackson Sr. as America’s leading race hustler, didn’t take up the case of Christian and Newsom. He did take up the cause of the late Trayvon Martin, creating a firestorm of controversy where none existed. More than anyone else, Sharpton’s Alinskyite agitating pushed authorities in Sanford, Fla., to pursue second-degree murder charges against George Zimmerman. Sharpton claimed racism was a factor even though local and federal investigations failed to uncover even a shred of racial animus on Zimmerman’s part.
But an absence of evidence never stops a dedicated community organizer from stirring the pot.
Sharpton, a racial arsonist known for leading angry followers into violent confrontations against whomever he happens to be targeting at the moment, became a national figure in 1987 by participating in the Tawana Brawley case, a racially charged gang rape hoax. Sharpton falsely accused prosecutor Steve Pagones of participating in the gang rape of a young black woman that never actually happened. Pagones won a libel judgment against Sharpton.
It’s not like cases involving forcible sodomy make Sharpton uncomfortable. If the victim isn’t white, he leaps into action.
Sharpton and his National Action Network launched a crusade for justice for Abner Louima, a black immigrant, after he was assaulted and sodomized with a broom handle by New York City police officers in 1997. Louima was actually a victim and the perpetrators were held accountable.
Sharpton, whose transgressions against his fellow man have been ably documented by Carl F. Horowitz of the National Legal and Policy Center, also took up the case of Michael Mineo, a young tattoo artist reportedly of Puerto Rican descent on one side.
Mineo is an unsavory character whom the left-wing Huffington Post described as “a pot-smoking thief and a gang member who has a Crips tattoo across his stomach to prove it.”
Mineo’s ordeal, which turned out to be fantasy, took place the same year Christian and Newsom were cruelly killed. Mineo claimed police sodomized him with a police baton. Originally he claimed that the instrument of torture was a police radio antenna.
The police officers were acquitted at trial and Mineo’s civil suit against them failed. Mineo’s civil case was so weak he was ordered to pay the three officers’ legal expenses.
In the end Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom are likely to be footnotes at best in the history books, remembered only in their communities. They didn’t have publicists like Sharpton and Pitts to shape their public image.