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  1. #1
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    Remembering Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, TN

    The Christian-Newsom Torture-Murders Five Years Later
    by David in Tennessee

    Five years ago, on the night and following morning of January 6 and 7, 2007, University of Tennessee student, Channon Christian, and her boyfriend Christopher Newsom were abducted at an apartment complex in Knoxville, Tennessee. The couple was about to drive to a party with friends when three armed men forced them into Channon's Toyota 4Runner and took them to a house about 3.5 miles away.

    At the house, both were raped, tortured, and murdered. Chris Newsom was anally gang-raped. Channon Christian was raped orally, anally, and vaginally. Both were brutally beaten and cleaning fluid was poured down Channon's throat in an (unsuccessful) attempt to destroy DNA evidence.

    According to the medical examiner, Channon Christian was found at the Chipman Street house in a trash can wrapped in five garbage bags. She was bound so tightly her knees were touching her cheeks. Christian was alive when placed in the trash can and died of suffocation. She had a plastic bag over her head. Her body had bruising and abrasions indicating rape with blunt trauma and an object. Her vaginal area had been kicked bloody.

    The attorneys for the supposed ringleader, Lemaricus Davidson, called this "consensual sex."

    Christopher Newsom, as described by the medical examiner, was raped with an object hours before he was killed. His bare feet were bound and he had been led or dragged to a railroad track a short distance from the house were Channon's body was found. Newsom's face was wrapped in a sweatshirt with a hole in it where he was shot in the head. His hands were tied behind his back and he was gagged with socks. Newsom was shot three times, the third to the head caused death. He was dead when his body was set on fire at the railroad track.

    When Newsom's body was found, his mother, a genteel lady, wanted to see it. The police would not let her. She put her arms around the body bag.

    The four suspects, Lemaricus Davidson, his half-brother Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas, and Vanessa Coleman were arrested a few days later. Davidson was hiding in a house in Knoxville and was wearing Chris Newsom's shoes when the police found him. He took them off but they were found in a corner of the house. Cobbins, Thomas, and Coleman had fled to Kentucky. They were visiting Davidson that weekend and were at his house by chance.

    Davidson, Cobbins, and apparently Davidson's friend, Eric Boyd carried out the abduction. Boyd was convicted in federal court in 2008 of helping Davidson escape. There wasn't enough evidence to charge Boyd in the murders.

    It should be emphasized that the killers almost got clean away with it. Davidson's fingerprint was found on an envelope in Channon Christian's SUV. When run through the AFIS database, Davidson's name and address came up. Without this fingerprint, The police would not have gone to the Chipman street house and found Channon Christian's body.

    Each of the four suspects blamed the others and claimed not to have done the killing. There was overwhelming DNA evidence against Davidson and conclusive forensic evidence against Cobbins. Thomas didn't leave any DNA but admitted to being in the house at the time, claiming he was stoned on drugs. Coleman also admitted being in the house but claimed to be a prisoner herself. Cobbins was her boyfriend.

    There was also semen from two unidentified males found on Channon Christian' undergarments. The suspects said they were the only ones in the house, but they can't be trusted, to say the least.

    Each suspect was tried separately. Cobbins was convicted in August, 2009 and sentenced to life without parole. Davidson was convicted in November that year and sentenced to death. Thomas was convicted a month later and sentenced to life without parole. Vanessa Coleman, the only female, was found not guilty of every charge relating to Newsom and not guilty of murder regarding Christian. She was convicted of facilitation of Channon Christian's murder and was sentenced to 53 years.

    In 2011, it was learned that Judge Richard Baumgartner, who presided over all four trials, was addicted to prescription drugs that were provided by probationers in his court. Among other things, he had sex with one of his drug suppliers in judge's chambers during one of the trials. Baumgartner was eventually disbarred after resigning in disgrace from the bench.

    On December 1, 2011, Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood, who took over Baumgartner's cases, overturned all four verdicts and ordered new trials for all four suspects. Judge Blackwood ruled "structural errors" made new trials necessary. This supposes that Baumgartner's drug addiction made him unsound and everything he did suspect.

    The Knox County District Attorney's office has appealed Blackwood's ruling to the Tennessee Supreme Court. There is supposed to be a hearing on January 12 to set the dates for the new trials. Despite the murders taking place place five years ago this weekend, the case is still undecided. We don't know how long the Tennessee Supreme Court will take to make their decision or whether there will be any trials in 2012.

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    No murder can be so cruel that there are not still useful imbeciles who do gloss over the murderer and apologize.

  2. #2
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    Christian, Newsom families remember daughter, son

    Early Saturday afternoon, friends and family came together to remember Channon Christian and Chris Newsom on the five year anniversary of their deaths.

    Mary Newsom said, mother of Chris, said it was nice to see that East Tennesseans were still supporting their family.

    "It makes me feel good that people haven't forgotten Chris, they still feel the need to come out and support us," Newsom said.

    Multiple motorcycle clubs showed up at Channon Christian's memorial. Christian's father, Gary, said his friends have him and his wife, Deena, get through the case.

    "Just one more opportunity that we can gather a bunch of friends together and remind people in this community of what happened to Channon," Christian said.

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    No murder can be so cruel that there are not still useful imbeciles who do gloss over the murderer and apologize.

  3. #3
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    UNREAL! All 4 should've been executed by now!

  4. #4
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    Good news!

    Supreme Court to judge: Review your rulings in Christian-Newsom cases

    The Tennessee Supreme Court halted Thursday a judge's decision to throw out convictions in the Christian-Newsom killings, turning back his ruling that the trial judge's conduct outside court was so bad that it affected the verdicts and also directing him to take a closer look at his own ability to serve as an independent, "13th juror."

    Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood in December ruled that 2009 and 2010 convictions for Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman had to be tossed. The four were convicted for their roles in the carjackings and killings in January 2007 of Chris Newsom, 23, and Channon Christian, 21.

    In reaching his decision, Blackwood found that Judge Richard Baumgartner behaved with such gross misconduct during the time when the defendants were prosecuted that their trials were structurally flawed.

    Baumgartner, who has since resigned, was addicted at the time to prescription medications, a 2011 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation review showed. He doctor-shopped and scored pills from multiple sources, including court personnel and even two people who had been prosecuted in Knox County, the investigation showed.

    Blackwood found that Baumgartner had failed to fulfill a fundamental task of a judge: affirming the jury's verdicts as a 13th juror. Blackwood, retired from a career in West Tennessee as a judge and now hearing appointed cases as a senior judge, also ruled that he was unable to weigh in as a 13th juror himself in the convictions because Baumgartner's credibility was so doubtful.

    As a result, Blackwood ordered new trials Dec. 1 for Davidson, Cobbins and Thomas that were set to start this summer.

    Knox County prosecutors did not contest the possible need for a new trial in Coleman's case. Baumgartner appeared intoxicated when a jury foreman tried to return Coleman's verdict in May 2010 in Knox County Criminal Court, and the former judge has said he was under the influence of Xanax at the time.

    Taking the case on an emergency basis, the state's highest court found fault with Blackwood's reasoning.

    Justices said Blackwood was too hasty in finding that Baumgartner's conduct was so bad it rendered the criminal trials flawed.

    No proof has been offered to show Baumgartner acted so poorly in the courtroom or made such bad decisions in the trials that Davidson, Thomas and Cobbins were denied justice, the court ruled. No defense attorney raised such objections for the record.

    "We are aware of no authority holding that a trial judge's misconduct outside the courtroom constitutes structural error when there is no showing or indication in the record that the trial judge's misconduct affected the trial proceedings," the court's ruling states.

    Further, the justices found, Blackwood erred in citing credibility issues with both the witnesses who testified as well as Baumgartner's credibility in stating that he couldn't step up and decide as a 13th juror whether the verdicts were just.

    "We are aware of no authority holding that an original trial judge's credibility is an appropriate factor for a successor judge (such as Blackwood) to consider when determining whether he is able to perform the 13th juror review," the court said Thursday.

    Rather, the court said, Blackwood should have focused on witness credibility in deciding if he could step in as a 13th juror.

    Justices directed Blackwood to "expeditiously" decide whether he can weigh in on the verdicts for Davidson, Cobbins and Thomas.

    If Blackwood decides that he cannot, then he's obliged to grant the men new trials, according to the court.

    If he decides he can serve as a 13th juror and can consider the defense's motions for a new trial, "he may do so," according to the court.

    The state attorney general appealed Blackwood's decision on behalf of Knox County prosecutors, prompting the state Supreme Court's decision Thursday.

    "We are pleased with the Supreme Court's timely decision," said Sharon Curtis-Flair, spokeswoman for Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper. "We are confident that the court's guidance will assist the trial court in its reconsideration of motions for new trial in these cases."

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    No murder can be so cruel that there are not still useful imbeciles who do gloss over the murderer and apologize.

  5. #5
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    Coleman jury to resume deliberations on Tuesday

    Jurors serving in the controversial retrial of Vanessa Coleman went home Monday night after deliberating for about two hours. Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood charged the in the afternoon by reading through each of the 17th counts against Coleman.

    The jury is from Jackson in West Tennessee. It is made up of four African American women, two Caucasian women, three African American men and three Caucasian men.

    Jurors are charged with making unanimous decisions on the counts against Coleman. The 17 counts have to do with the kidnapping, rape, murder, and theft of Channon Christian between January 6-7, 2007. There are dozens of verdict combinations the jury can come up with, which means it could take them some time to reach unanimous decisions on the charges.

    For perspective, it took the jury around 12 hours to reach verdicts in Coleman's initial trial in 2010. Then, the jury had to decide on 32 counts; 17 having to do with Christian's death and 15 having to do with Newsom's death. The jury acquitted Coleman on the Newsom counts. They found her guilty of the other counts; she is currently serving a 53 year sentence for those.

    Ultimately, in the retrial, the burden of proof is on the state, and much of the evidence is circumstantial. The defense has maintained that Coleman is a victim who was scared of the other suspects: Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas.

    Channon Christian's parents have sat through every day of the five day trial. They believe prosecutors effectively argued the case against Coleman's defense team.

    "If the jury is playing attention, there's no other verdict but guilty," said Deena Christian.

    "I can't get over the fact that in our justice system, we can sit in a criminal court room and listen to people lie all day long," said Gary Christian, referring to the defense's interpretation of some of the evidence and testimony prosecutors put forth in the case.

    Closing arguments

    Both sides in Vanessa Coleman's controversial retrial presented their closing arguments to the court on Monday, and the case will go to the jury sometime in the afternoon.

    Prosecutor TaKisha Fitzgerald laid out what happened in the days before and after Channon Christian and Chris Newsom were murdered on January 7, 2007.

    Fitzgerald told the court, "If she was not a part of it, she would have left."

    That's the essence of the state's case: that Coleman knew what was going down, had several chances to leave, and chose not to leave or get help.

    Prosecutors have presented one piece of evidence as central to Coleman's guilt. Police found her journal with her in Kentucky in the days after the murders. She had written about her "adventures in Tennessee." A handwriting expert told the court earlier this week that the writing in the journal for that entry matched Coleman's handwriting sample.

    Knox Co. Assistant District Attorney Leland Price read part of that entry to jurors today, a photograph of it was shown on a big screen in the courtroom.

    Price read Coleman's words, "Although a lot of this is new to me, life is a trip. It's amazing how things play its own role. Life is interesting now and full of surprises, even very unexpected. Things happen that you don't expect."

    Then Price asked the jury, "Now, does this sound like someone that's been held hostage and witnesses another one brutally murdered?"

    Prosecutors want the jury to believe there's no way Christian didn't scream during her rapes & there is no way Coleman didn't hear Christian.

    Last week, the state established that Coleman heard Christian pleading with ring-leader Lemaricus Davidson at one point after he kidnapped Christian, "No! Don't! Stop!"

    Defense attorney Ted Lavit argued that Coleman did not play a role in the murders other than being present when Christian was killed. He hammered to the jury that "mere presence" is not a crime.

    "I think she was a hostage herself...Any evidence that Vanessa watched that girl?," Lavit asked the jury.

    The defense wants the jury to believe that Coleman was a victim in the crimes, too, that Cobbins and Davidson were controlling and threatening her, too, and that she was too scared to try to leave when she may have had a chance.

    "Vanessa Coleman did not commit a crime. She didn't render substantial assistance because mere presence is no more than Tom Robinson's in the home of Miss May Ella," Lavit argued.

    Lavit argued the state doesn't have enough substantial evidence on Coleman to support its case.

    "The killers spoke in whispers. Cobbins and Thomas took turns watching and reporting to Davidson. They were look-outs for Davidson," Lavit reminded the jury.

    Closing arguments come after the state called 49 witnesses (that includes two pieces of reenacted testimony from previous interviews) throughout the first four days of the trial last week.

    The defense called its only two witnesses this morning, Coleman's parents, Greg and Linda, after Coleman told Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood she "refused" to testify on her own behalf.

    Coleman is being retried for facilitating the rape and murder of Christian. A jury previously acquitted her of 15 charges for her role in Newsom's kidnapping, rape, and murder in 2010. She cannot be retried for those because of double jeopardy. Coleman's retrial is a result of the judge in her original trial later admitting he abused prescription pills while on the bench.

    Jurors are due back in court Tuesday at 9 a.m. to continue their deliberations.

    Previous Story

    Update 11:20 am. The defense has rested its case. Prosecutor TaKisha Fitzgerald is presenting her closing argument. The jury is expected to the get the case this afternoon.

    Previous story

    Vanessa Coleman's defense team got their turn Monday morning to call witnesses to the stand in her controversial retrial. But, first defense attorney Ted Lavit asked Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood to dismiss the charges against Coleman due to insufficient evidence. Blackwood declined the Rule 29 request.

    Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood asked Coleman if she was aware that it is her right as a defendant not to testify on her own behalf. She acknowledged she understood. Coleman replied, "I refuse not to testify, Your Honor," when Judge Blackwood asked her if she intended to testify.

    Lavit's first defense witness was Coleman's father, Greg Coleman. He testified about bringing Coleman to Knoxville 10 days after the murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom. Coleman, and her mother, Linda, were subpoenaed to testify before the federal Grand Jury in Knoxville.

    Greg Coleman told the court that ATF Agent Bernard Waggoner, Knoxville Police Detective Todd Childress, and another law enforcement official took Vanessa on a ride-along around Knoxville. Officers wanted Coleman to identify locations associated with the murders; Mr. Coleman also on the ride. Mr. Coleman said Vanessa was unable to identify any of the locations officers drove her to, including the apartment complex where the car jacking and kidnappings of Christian and Newsom occurred.

    Most of Mr. Coleman's testimony was in regard to Vanessa initially being a federal witness in the crimes. Mr. Coleman did not take the stand in Vanessa's initial trial in 2010.

    During the state's cross-examination, Prosecutor Leland Price honed in on the days after police initially questioned Coleman in Kentucky about the crimes, before she was subpoenaed to Knox County.

    The defense also called Vanessa Coleman's mother, Linda, to the stand. She was subpoenaed to testify before the federal Grand Jury in Knoxville, along with Vanessa, and her oldest daughter. Mrs. Coleman was present for several interviews Vanessa did with law enforcement throughout January 2006.

    It is likely both sides will deliver closing arguments later Monday. Then the jury gets the case and will begin deliberations.

    Previous story

    After being sequestered during the weekend, the jury in Vanessa Coleman's retrial will be back in court Monday morning at 9:00 a.m.

    Coleman is being tried for her role in the murder of Channon Christian in 2007.

    The judge who presided over her initial trial in 2010 plead guilty to "official misconduct" during that time and has since resigned from the bench.

    Friday night, prosecutors rested their case which included testimony from 49 witnesses.

    The most significant piece of information to come out in court on Friday is Coleman admitting in separate tape-recorded interviews with authorities that she took Christian's pulse after Lemaricus Davidson choked Christian. Coleman also said in those recordings that Davidson made her do it.

    Source
    No murder can be so cruel that there are not still useful imbeciles who do gloss over the murderer and apologize.

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