18 years for Eric Boyd in Newsom/Christian murders

KNOXVILLE (WATE) — Eric Boyd was given the maximum sentence Wednesday for being an accessory to the murders of a Knoxville couple in January 2007.

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The 18-year sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan was what federal prosecutors David Jennings and Tracy Stone were seeking.

Boyd was convicted in April of two counts of being an accessory after the fact to the murders of Channon Christian and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom.

Boyd is the only suspect connected to the case who was tried in federal court. Four other suspects are awaiting trial on state charges of first degree murder.

In Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, four members of the Christian and Newsom families addressed the court Wednesday afternoon.

“Don’t you ever think for one second we don’t know what you did,” Channon Christian’s father, Gary, told Boyd. “I hate you beyond your comprehension.”

After the families spoke, Boyd addressed the court. He denied having any knowledge about the murders when he started helping the alleged ringleader, Lemaricus Davidson, to hide. He claimed as soon as he learned about the crimes he told police.

Boyd didn’t speak to the families directly or offer any apologies for the murders.

The bodies of the couple were found beaten, raped and murdered on separate days in January 2007.

Earlier Wednesday, U.S. Probation Officer Myra Melton testified about Boyd’s lengthy criminal history, beginning with a vandalism charge at age 14.

He was also charged in nine armed robberies in 1994 when he was 22. One of those robberies included an attempted murder charge for firing a gun at a witness.

Defense attorney Phil Lomonaco argued that those charges happened several years ago and Boyd’s sentence should be lower.

Davidson along with Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman are charged with kidnapping, raping and murdering the couple.

Shortly after the murders, Boyd led police to the vacant house where Davidson was hiding. Boyd said he had been taking food to Davidson.

The prosecution maintained that Boyd hid out with Davidson, set up cell phones for them to use and lied to police at first about where Davidson was.

Families react to the sentencing

After the sentencing, Christopher Newsom’s father, Hugh, said, “Finally, we have one conviction. That’s a high price to pay for it.”

“That was actually the first time we’ve heard him (Boyd) speak and he just got it all wrong.” Christopher Newsom’s mother, Mary, said. “I told my son that we would get these guys no matter where they were and I believe we’ve got them. We’re on our way.”

“Federal prosecutors and their support staff, they’re unbelievable,” Gary Christian said. “They never let up and they got all they could get. We still got a lot of business to take care of, though.”

Next up, murder trials

The case has received so much attention in the media, even drawing a rally by white supremacists because the victims were white and the suspects are black, that the jury in the murder trial of another suspect, Letalvis Cobbins, won’t come from Knox County.

That ruling was made by Judge Richard Baumgartner in September.

The jurors will be brought to Knox County from other counties in Tennessee to hear the case and they’ll be sequestered.

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