Jury deliberating murder of Vanderbilt professor, sister

Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 2:25pm

The murder case against Lavonta Churchwell was in the hands of a Davidson County jury Thursday afternoon.

Churchwell is the second defendant to go on trial for the Aug. 26, 2008, shooting deaths of Vanderbilt University professor Pierre Colas, 32, and Marie Colas, his 27-year-old sister visiting from Switzerland. Churchwell faces two counts each of first-degree murder, especially aggravated robbery and felony murder.

Churchwell’s defense attorney Paul Walwyn attacked testimony of the state’s witnesses saying they may have been plied by hopes of favorable treatment in their own cases, and that information surrounding the case actually came from a guard at the Criminal Justice Center feeding it to other inmates because of a dislike for Churchwell.

Churchwell himself, prosecutors said, was caught in a lie about his whereabouts on the night of the murders claiming others would vouch for him, but his cell phone records indicated that he was in fact in East Nashville at the time of the murders.

The state recounted the brother and sister’s final moments in which the two were forced into Pierre Colas’ McFerrin Drive home around 9:10 that night. The defendants allegedly made the two undress, robbed them and shot them both in the head.

The robbers then ran out the backdoor, later splitting the take with Churchwell getting the cash and co-defendant George Cody getting the credit cards, prosecutors said. That same night Churchwell made his way to a party in Antioch, where he said he had been at the time of the murders.

Walwyn argued that Cody and Churchwell had a “beef,” or disagreement, with each other and therefore wouldn’t have committed a robbery together.

In May, a Davidson County jury found Cody, 31, guilty on two counts of felony murder, two counts of identity theft and two counts of criminally negligent homicide for his role in the deaths.

Nathaniel Carson, Gennyfer Hutcheson and Thomas Reed are also charged in the murders, and are awaiting their trials.

1 Comment on this post:

By: ghost7638ghost7... on 7/15/10 at 2:02

Who cares about the out come our stupid governor will commute their sentence and let them go free in 90 days.