Motion Seeks New Trial Because Sentencing Jurors Sang Hymns, Read Bible Verses
Posted Jan 2, 2013 8:11 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A death-row inmate convicted in the torture slayings of a Tennessee couple deserves a new trial because jurors spent more time singing hymns and reading Bible verses than deliberating the sentence, a motion argues.
A Knox County judge will consider the motion filed on behalf of inmate Lemaricus Davidson on Jan. 10, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Defense lawyer David Eldridge contends the worship service violated Davidson's rights to a fair trial, due process and impartial jury.
The motion cites a bailiff’s affidavit and an Internet message board post claiming to be written by a juror in the case. The post said that jurors spent four hours during the second the day of deliberations "in prayer and in reading the Bible and reaching the Moral Certainty called for by Law." The bailiff’s notes said jurors read Psalm 90, verse 12.
Davidson was convicted in the deaths of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. The verdict was called into question when the presiding judge, Richard Baumgartner, later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor related to his addiction to prescription painkillers.