Christian and Newsom families react to day one of Coleman trial

Christian and Newsom families react to day one of Coleman trial

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By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Day one of the Vanessa Coleman retrial was a long, and at times, emotional day, with 14 different witness testimonies and two very different cases laid out by the state and defense in their opening arguments.

Coleman is charged with facilitating Channon Christian's murder, kidnapping, rape and theft. She was convicted in 2010, but was granted a new trial because of Judge Richard Baumgartner's addiction to prescription pain pills.

The state painted a detailed picture of what they maintain happened to Channon Christian and her boyfriend, Chris Newsom, in January 2007.

"Channon Christian was found hog tied, raped, stuffed inside of five trash bags with a trash bag tied around her mouth and nose, eyes open, stuffed inside of the trash can," said Knox County Assistant District Attorney Takisha Fitzgerald in her opening statement.

But the defense gave a different story, painting Vanessa Coleman as a victim who tried to escape, and who had no role at all.

"There will be no evidence that she witnessed it. There will be no evidence that she participated in it. There will be no evidence that she sanctioned it, aided it, abetted it or provided any kind of substantial assistance,"  said defense attorney Theodore Lavit.

For the Christian and Newsom families, the defense's argument was tough to stomach.

"It's a joke," Channon's father, Gary Christian, said. "She was no victim. It's all I can do to keep from getting up and leaving. (Coleman) had ability to get up and walk away."

Mary Newsom, mother of Channon's murdered boyfriend Chris Newsom, said it's difficult to hear the details all over again.

"It's sad that the witnesses have to get up there and tell the truth, under oath and tell the truth, and the defense team can get up there and say whatever they want to say, and make up stuff," Newsom said. "That just doesn't seem fair. That just doesn't seem right."

There was a range of emotions for the families as the investigator walked the jury through the crime scene where Channon's body was found, including a description of some personal items found at the scene.

"In the container was the iPod the detective discovered ,and on the back is engraved 'Channon Christian, love you, Mom and Dad,'" said Joe Cox, a crime scene investigator

The families said they are frustrated by the number of objections during the trial.

"We had enough side bars to last a year and a half," said Hugh Newsom, Chris Newsom's father.

Even though this is the second time around, the Christians and Newsoms said it hasn't gotten any easier.

"It never goes away, even after six, almost seven years, it doesn't go away," Deena Christian said.

Hugh Newsom agreed.

"We're just innocent bystanders trying to get justice for Chris and Channon."

 

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