Friday, August 21, 2009

From the Cobbins trial...

Medical examiner: Newsom raped, shot and killed, set on fire

Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan autopsied the bodies of Christian and Newsom.

The state showed several photos of Newsom's body on a projector. His bare feet were bound and his body was burned.

His family quietly wept as Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan described his face wrapped in a sweatshirt with a hole showing in it where Newsom was shot in the head. His hands were tied behind his back and he was gagged with socks.

Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan testified that the gun was put against Newsom's head and fired, leaving an inch gash.

Newsom was also shot in the upper shoulder near his neck and in the lower back, which would have disabled him, Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan said.

The bullet to the head was Newsom's cause of death. He was dead when he was set on fire.

Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan described bruising indicating that Newsom was raped with an object, probably hours before he was killed. She estimated that it happened between 11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. and he likely died in the early morning hours.

What was done to Newsom was probably "too complex" to be done by one person, Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan said. He had no defensive wounds and was likely outnumbered and overpowered.

After the court took a break, Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan came back to the stand and used a mannequin to show where Newsom was shot. The shoulder wound disabled his arm. The lower back wound nearly shattered his spinal cord.

Newsom's friend, Josh Anderson, who testified in court earlier this week, wouldn't look at the projected photos. The jury often looked at the medical examiner.

Cobbins shielded his face from the autopsy photos.

Medical examiner: Christian suffocated in trash can

Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan testified that she went to the crime scene where Christian was found in an East Knoxville house on Chipman Street. The state began showing photos of Christian's body.

Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan said Christian's bound body was "crammed" in five large trash bags in a trash can in the kitchen. She was bound so tightly her knees were touching her cheeks.

Christian was alive when she was put in the trash can. "She died in the trash can," Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan testified. The cause was lack of oxygen.

Christian was only wearing a sweatshirt and a camisole.

Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan said Christian wasn't strangled. She had a plastic bag over her head and her eyes were open.

Christian's fingernails didn't show any defensive wounds, Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan testified.

Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan said Christian's body had accumulated blood, bruising and "lots of abrasions" indicating rape with blunt trauma and an object. Some of the jurors grimaced at these photos.

"This was no simple rape," Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan said. It was much more severe.

Christian was raped orally first, Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan said, and eventually wrapped in the trash bags and put in the can. She believes Christian died within three to five minutes after the bag was put over her head.

Christian was injured Sunday afternoon, the medical examiner said. She'd been dead for at least a day when she was found and died possibly sometime late Sunday or early Monday.

Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan testified that she believed more than one person was responsible for Christian's murder.

Again, Cobbins didn't look at the photos. He looked down and covered his eyes with his hand or put his head down so far it was just barely above the table where he sat.

However, Christian's father was looking directly at Cobbins at one point. A moment later, Newsom's father comforted Gary Christian.

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