- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2016

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee Supreme Court justices could use the case of the ringleader of a 2007 double slaying of a young Knoxville couple to craft new law.

The state high court heard arguments Wednesday in Knoxville in the appeal of Lemaricus Davidson, who was sentenced to die for his role in the carjacking, kidnapping, beating, rape and killings of 21-year-old Channon Christian and her 23-year-old boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, news outlets reported.

The justices will weigh various issues surrounding Davidson’s case, but made clear by their questions they are interested in using a search warrant foul-up to explore the possibility of crafting what is known as a “good faith exception.”

Federal courts have used good faith exceptions to forgive mistakes such as clerical errors, but no such exception currently exists in Tennessee courts.

“This court has the authority to adopt that, and we want to know if we should adopt that,” Justice Jeffrey Bivins told attorney David Eldridge, who represents Davidson.

Davidson’s defense team has argued that the trial court should not have allowed evidence from searches of Davidson’s house because the search warrant wasn’t signed in the correct place. Investigators found Christian’s body during the search before noticing the signature was missing.

John Bledsoe, an attorney for the state Attorney General’s Office, has called the missing signature a faxing error. Bledsoe said the detective had signed the affidavit accompanying the search warrant and had sworn to its truthfulness, but the signature line was cut off when the document was sent to a judge for approval.

Eldridge argued that the mistake at issue is more serious than a clerical error because an officer’s signature on a search warrant application is proof that officer swore under oath that the facts therein are true.

“Failure to comply with the legal rules of procedure is pretty significant,” Eldridge said.

In 2014, the state Court of Criminal Appeals held that because police already had amassed evidence against Davidson as a suspect and had discovered Newsom’s body and Christian’s missing vehicle near Davidson’s house, authorities inevitably would have found Christian’s body through legal means.

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