Eight aggravated rape counts were dropped from the total filed against Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman.
Judge Richard Baumgartner said that in the original filing, eight counts of rape by force and eight counts of rape by coercion duplicated each other.
Assistant District Attorney General Leland Price agreed with the judge after defense attorneys argued earlier their clients were facing too many charges.
The judge denied two defense motions that attempted to remove the death penalty from the possible sentencing for the suspects.
One motion claimed the death penalty is unconstitutional because it costs more than a sentence of life in prison.
The other motion claimed the death penalty is racially biased. Judge Baumgartner said that's a Supreme Court issue.
If a trial produced a conviction, the defense team could pole the jurors during the sentencing phase to ask if they're aware the death penalty is more costly than other sentences.
Christian's parents, Gary and Deena, say they're relieved the judge didn't toss out the death penalty.
"I don't care if it's 100 percent black on death row. I don't care if it's 100 percent white on death row. I don't care what color you are. If you did the crime, you deserve to be there," Gary says.
"I could care less how much it costs. They killed our daughter. They murdered Chris. They need to go away," Deena says.
Friday, the defense discussed juror questions for the first time in court. Jurors will be asked about their opinions on the death penalty, whether they've ever blogged or written online comments about the case and their political preferences.
"That's intruding into someone's privacy. In my opinion, it shouldn't be brought up at all," says Christopher Newsom's father, Hugh.
Six-year-old James Mitchell of Knoxville is a pint-sized powerhouse who packs a mean punch. More >>
Six-year-old James Mitchell of Knoxville is a pint-sized powerhouse who packs a mean punch. He's such a talented martial artist in fact, he's just been invited to participate in the biggest martial arts competition in the world.More >>
Three Pilot Flying J employees pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges of conspiracy and wire fraud.More >>
Three Pilot Flying J employees pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges of conspiracy and wire fraud. Kevin Wallace Clark, Jay Stinnett, and Holly Radford pleaded guilty in exchange for providing information in the case.More >>