Opposition to death penalty whittles down Coleman trial jury pool

Opposition to death penalty whittles down jury pool for Coleman trial

Vanessa Coleman Vanessa Coleman

6 News Reporter

NASHVILLE (WATE) - Opposition to the death penalty whittled down the Davidson County jury pool during individual questioning for the trial of Vanessa Coleman. The jurors will be brought to Knoxville and sequestered for the trial.

Coleman is the fourth defendant to stand trial for the Christian-Newsom murders.

Nearly 110 potential jurors are being questioned from Tuesday through Thursday. On Friday, 58 people will return for group questioning.

The final jury will be made up of 16 people, 12 plus four alternates. The court plans to seat the jury Friday.

Channon Christian and her boyfriend, Chris Newsom, were carjacked, robbed, repeatedly raped and murdered in East Knoxville in January 2007.

Newsom's shot, burned, bound body was found along a set of railroad tracks.

Christian's bound body was found stuffed in a trash can in the house where the couple was held after their carjacking.

Wednesday's jury questioning includes several mentions of jurors' need to view graphic pictures of the victims. Some of the women in the jury pool admitted they feel too sensitive to do this.

Opposition to the death penalty caused several people to be cut from the pool Wednesday and Thursday. The state is seeking the sentence against Coleman.

Several dismissed jurors told 6 News off camera Wednesday their stance on the death penalty was a moral and religious issue, and no amount of discussion could sway them.

On Friday, dismissed juror Tina Pooser, said she's told family members not to seek the death penalty even if she's the victim. 

"I think they should be held accountable, but in this day and age you can do that through prison and not the death penalty." Pooser said.

Another man cut from the jury pool became so emotional he had to stop his interview with 6 News when he realized he and Coleman are the same age, 22.

A handful of people in the pool knew about case. One person who was dismissed said Nashville wasn't far enough away to find an impartial jury.

Opening arguments in the trial are scheduled for May 3.

Investigators originally found Coleman in Kentucky with two men convicted in this case, her ex-boyfriend, Letalvis Cobbins, and his friend, George Thomas.

She was eventually arrested in Kentucky and charged in the case.

Cobbins and Thomas are serving life without parole for the murders.

LeMaricus Davidson, who is Cobbins' half-brother, received the death penalty.


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