LeMaricus Davidson jury 'disgusted' by ruling for new trial

LeMaricus Davidson jury 'disgusted' by ruling for new trial

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Six jurors and two alternates sat down with 6 News to reveal what they saw behind the scenes and about their observation of former Judge Richard Baumgartner on the bench. Six jurors and two alternates sat down with 6 News to reveal what they saw behind the scenes and about their observation of former Judge Richard Baumgartner on the bench.

By HANA KIM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Most of the jurors in one of Knoxville's most high profile murder cases broke their silence on Tuesday.

They spoke to 6 News just days after a bombshell decision was handed down Thursday by Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood.

Judge Blackwood ruled the four people convicted in connection to the murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom will receive new trials. 

Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas were serving life sentences without parole. LeMaricus Davidson was on death row and Vanessa Coleman had been sentenced to 53 years.

The new trials were ordered because of former Knox County Judge Richard Baumgartner's admitted addiction to prescription pills and his guilty plea to official misconduct.

Judge Blackwood said Baumgartner was incapable or failed to serve as the presiding judge in the cases.

Six jurors and two alternates sat down with 6 News to reveal what they saw behind the scenes and their observations of Baumgartner on the bench. 

The first question 6 News asked, however, was what their initial reaction was to the new trials.

"When I first heard the news, it was anger. As time went on and it I let it soak in, it became more of disgust," said jury foreman Greg Wise.

"We all struggled with having to be on the jury but then to know that the families have to go through it again," said Chris Baber.

Jurors are shocked and infuriated about Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports indicating that Baumgartner could have been taking up to 30 hydrocodone pills a day during the trials.

"I kind of feel like a fool that it was going on and I had no idea," said Cindy Goltry.

"I'm taking time off from my family and he is doing all these things so yes it made me angry," said Rodney Ruth.

However, jurors are adamant that the trial was run fairly and properly.

Despite Baumgartner's addiction, jurors say the judge was on point at least during Davidson's trial.

"He just looked tired," said Ruth.

"I think the worst thing we saw is periodically him looking like he wanted to take a nap. There was no indication he was drugged out," said Wise.

"We would see him in the back hallway and he would say good day folks that kind of thing before the trial would begin. At no point to us did he seem to have anything wrong with him," said Darryl Avans.

"I can only talk about the Davidson case. I know he got a fair trial to us, as far I am concerned. I believe in my heart that he got a fair trial with Baumgartner," said Daniel Neeley.

"The thing is, what mistake did he make that warrants a new trial? That's the thing I am upset about," said Avans.

"Judge Baumgartner didn't make a decision on guilt or innocence or what the penalty was going to be so I don't see how even if he made a very small mistake based on all the evidence how it would change outcome of the trial," said Wise.

Jurors say they are still haunted by autopsy pictures.

"You never forget all the pictures we had to see and everything it's hard," said Neeley.

Jurors say they had nightmares after the trial. "Seeing those pictures, they will always be there," said Neeley.

The jurors were asked how they would feel four to five years from now if Davidson doesn't get the death penalty because another jury gives him a lesser conviction.

"We are already disgusted to think that could happen. It would disgust me even more," said Avans.

"I would like to see him put to death. We all do," said Wise.

MORE:   1  |  2  |  PART TWO OF THIS REPORT>>

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