Judge denies motion to dismiss in double murder case

Judge denies motion to dismiss in double murder case


KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- Motions to dismiss charges against one of the defendants charged with the murders of a young Knoxville couple, Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom were denied Thursday. 

Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner filed an order to deny Vanessa Coleman's motion for immunity, as well as her motion to dismiss charges.

They were among several rulings the judge issued Thursday.

Coleman's attorneys were attempting to prevent her from being called to testify in the trial of another defendant, her then-boyfriend, Letalvis Cobbins.

The attorneys argued that because she was initially considered to be a witness to the carjacking she could not later treated as a murder suspect. 

Shortly after the other defendants were arrested, investigators treated Coleman as a witness and nearly granted her immunity from prosecution.

But later, authorities say, evidence turned up that showed Coleman had direct knowledge of the killings.

The trials of Cobbins and Coleman were delayed last month to give Judge Baumgartner time to consider the motion by Cobbins.

Cobbins's trial was scheduled to start July 6. It has been moved to August 10.

Coleman has not been give a new date yet.

Defense attorneys for two other suspects, Lamarcus Davidson and George Thomas, have also filed paperwork asking the judge to drop charges against them for reasons of insufficient evidence.

The judge has not yet ruled on those motions.

Among the other rulings issued by Judge Baumgartner Thursday was a decision to deny Davidson's request to exclude jail phone conversations from his trial.

Some other motions remain unresolved. One is the issue raised by the Davidson defense team about excluding victim's photos during trial. Baumgartner said that one is still under advisement.

He also didn't rule on the defense's motion to exclude evidence found at the Chipman Street home where Channon Christian's body was found.

But in a partial victory for the defense, Baumgartner granted a motion to reopen proof on the evidence issue. It will be discussed further on July 17.

Coleman, Davidson, Thomas, and Cobbins could face the death penalty in connection with the 2007 murders of Christian and Newsom.

Thomas's trial is set to begin in August.


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