New motion for judge's recusal in Christian-Newsom case

State files new motion for judge's recusal in Christian-Newsom case

Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The state on Tuesday filed a new motion seeking for Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood to recuse himself from retrials in the Christian-Newsom murders case.

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

Four people were originally convicted in connection to the case: LeMaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman.

However, presiding Judge Richard Baumgartner resigned and pleaded guilty to official misconduct. A Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe found he became a pill addict during the case.

Judge Blackwood was assigned to take over the proceedings.

The state made its first recusal motion for Judge Blackwood on June 4 of this year.

Judge Blackwood on June 5 granted new trials to Davidson, Thomas and Cobbins. However, he said in a hearing on June 14 he would review his decision on Davidson and Cobbins.

The state says in its new recusal motion it has "fresh concerns about the court's impartiality."

The motion says "a judge is not to be swayed by public clamor or criticism." But the DA's office argues that Judge Blackwood admitted when reviewing the Cobbins trial he had become an advocate instead of a judge.

The DA's office also says Judge Blackwood's "remarkable anger" in that June 14 hearing on its first recusal motion is further proof that he's become too emotionally involved in the case.

In that hearing, Judge Blackwood wound up in a yelling match with District Attorney General Randy Nichols. Blackwood also accused DA Special Counsel John Gill of spreading rumors about him and mentioned a rumor that "Blackwood is dirty."

The state maintains that "No one in the Knox County District Attorney General's Office is aware of any such rumor and certainly was not the source of such a rumor if it exists."

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