Judge Blackwood recused in three Christian-Newsom cases

Judge Blackwood recused in three Christian-Newsom cases


KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals in Knoxville has recused Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood in three trials in the Christian-Newsom murders.

In the ruling issued Thursday, the court found that the trial court had erred in denying the motion for recusal, saying there was a "reasonable basis" for questioning Judge Blackwood's impartiality in the case.

The court issued a stay in the cases against Letalvis Cobbins, LeMaricus Davidson and George Thomas until the Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court appoints a replacement trial judge.

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

Cobbins, Davidson and Thomas as well as Vanessa Coleman were all originally convicted in connection to the case.

However, the presiding judge in those four trials, Judge Richard Baumgartner, pleaded guilty to official misconduct in March 2011 and resigned from the bench.

Judge Blackwood was appointed as his replacement and he granted new trials for all four defendants in December 2011 in light of the charges.

Blackwood said Judge Baumgartner was incapable of serving as the thirteenth juror, or presiding judge, in three of the cases because he never signed off on the verdicts.

Now Blackwood's ability to serve as that thirteenth juror in three of those cases has been questioned by the state's Court of Criminal Appeals.

Vanessa Coleman's retrial is still on schedule and is set to begin in November.

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