Christian - Newsom Murder Trials

Christian - Newsom Murder Trials

Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom
Channon Christian and
Christopher Newsom

The 2007 murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, both in their early 20s at the time of their deaths, have both captivated and angered Knoxville-area residents for several years. The case has made national headlines and turned the victims' parents into public figures as they sought justice and raised awareness about their children's deaths.

Four people were eventually found guilty of commiting or facilitating the couple's rape, torture and murder. The judge in those trials later admitted an addiction to prescription painkillers, resulting in retrials for two of the suspects. Their guilty convictions were upheld.

The murders

  • January 6-7, 2007 - Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom did not arrive at their friends' party as expected. Knoxville police later said they were carjacked. Chris Newsom's bound and burned body was found near railroad tracks in East Knoxville. The medical examiner said he had been repeatedly raped, beaten and shot.
  • January 9, 2007 - Channon Christian's body was found in a trash can in a nearby house. The medical examiner said she was also repeatedly raped, beaten and bleach was poured down her throat. She suffocated in the trash can.

The arrests

  • January 11-12, 2007 - LeMaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, and George Thomas were arrested and charged with the murders of the couple. Eric Boyd was arrested and charged as an accessory.
  • January 31, 2007 - Vanessa Coleman was arrested in Lebanon, Ky., and was also charged with murder.

The first trials

  • April 16, 2008 - Boyd was convicted as an accessory after the jury agreed that he helped Davidson hide following the murders. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison, and a federal appeals court upheld his conviction in 2011.
  • August 26, 2009 - Cobbins was found guilty of Christian's murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
  • October 30, 2009 - Davidson was found guilty of murdering Christian and Newsom and sentenced to the death penalty.
  • December 10, 2009 - Thomas was found guilty of murdering Christian and Newsom and was setenced to life in prison without parole.
  • May 13, 2010 - Coleman was convicted of lesser charges of facilitating Christian's murder, kidnapping, rape and theft and sentenced to 53 years in prison.

Judge Baumgartner resigns

  • March 10, 2011 - The judge who presided over all the trials, Richard Baumgartner, resigned, pleaded guilty to official misconduct and admitted he'd become an addict who bought drugs from a felon under his jurisdiction.
  • December 1, 2011 - Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood granted new trials, finding that Baumgartner was impaired during the originals.

The re-trials

  • October 31, 2012 - Special Judge Walter Kurtz of Davidson County was appointed to oversee the trials after an appeals court ruled there was an appearance of bias by Judge Blackwood because of outbursts that took place during court proceedings related to the murders. Judge Blackwood was allowed to remain on the bench for the retrial of Vanessa Coleman.
  • November 20, 2012 - Vanessa Coleman was found guilty again of lesser charges of facilitating Channon Christian's murder. She was given a lesser sentence of 35 years in prison with the possibility of parole in four and half years. She later requested a third trial.
  • January 15, 2013 - Special Judge Walter Kurtz reviewed the requests of Davidson, Cobbins and Thomas for new trials. Davidson's attorney argued that a jury praise service influenced their decision towards his client. George Thomas was granted a new trial, while Davidson and Cobbins were denied new trials.
  • May 16, 2013 - Thomas was found guilty again of all 38 counts against him and was sentenced to life in prison without the possiblity of parole.
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