Coleman could get parole after about 30% of her sentence

Coleman could get parole after about 30% of her sentence

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By HANA KIM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - It will be more than two months until Vanessa Coleman is sentenced for her role in the Christian-Newsom murders.

Coleman, 21, was found not guilty Thursday on all charges related to Chris Newsom's kidnapping, rape and murder.

She was convicted of lesser charges of facilitation for the kidnapping, rape, murder and theft of Channon Christian.

Christian and Newsom's parents were infuriated when the jury from Davidson County returned more "not guiltys" than "guiltys" in the Knox County courtroom.

The verdict means Coleman won't get the death penalty as the victims' parents had hoped.

Instead, she could receive a minimum of 15 years behind bars. Defense attorneys said Coleman was relieved, something that was clear from her smiling during the reading of the verdict.

"The real battle at sentencing is going to be whether the sentence is concurrent or consecutive, and the state is going to be fighting to stack those sentences," said 6 News legal analyst and attorney Greg Isaacs.

If Judge Richard Baumgartner decides to stack the convictions, Coleman's defense says the worse case scenario is that she could receive 50 or more years.

"What the prosecution is going to do is bring in all the residual guilt, that the crimes were heinous, that there was torture, kidnapping and that you had random homicides," Isaacs explains.

But with no criminal record prior to the 2007 slayings, the defense says Coleman deserves the minimum of 15 years.

"If she gets a minimum sentence and it's not stacked, that courtroom could erupt," Isaacs says.

6 News also asked Isaacs about Coleman's smile in front of the victims' parents and the judge Thursday.

"It may or may not hurt her, but again we communicate things directly and indirectly and that to me didn't communicate sympathy for the victims or remorse for the victims," Isaacs says.

Coleman has already served almost three and a half years in jail. That time will be credited to whatever sentence she gets.

She could also be eligible for parole after serving close to 30 percent of her sentence.

Coleman will be moved to a state prison after her July 30 sentencing. She remains detained in Knox County until then.

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