Coleman sentenced to 35 years in prison

Coleman sentenced to 35 years in prison for role in Christian-Newsom murders

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"You have to be possessed with pure evil to do what you did," Deena Christian said on the stand. "You have to be possessed with pure evil to do what you did," Deena Christian said on the stand.
"I hate the fact that you were born. I hate the fact that you draw air," Gary Christian said, addressing Coleman. "I hate the fact that you were born. I hate the fact that you draw air," Gary Christian said, addressing Coleman.
Vanessa Coleman listens to victim impact statements by the Christians. Vanessa Coleman listens to victim impact statements by the Christians.
"This is a horrible crime. Horrible, senseless, cruel, every word that you can use to describe," said Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood. "This is a horrible crime. Horrible, senseless, cruel, every word that you can use to describe," said Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Vanessa Coleman was sentenced to 35 years in prison for her role in the abduction and slaying of Channon Christian.

Coleman was convicted in November on 13 of 17 counts of facilitating the torture, rape and murder of Channon Christian.

The conviction followed her first trial and conviction in May 2010.

That conviction was thrown out and a new trial granted after the presiding judge revealed his addiction to prescription pain killers and admitted to using them during Coleman's trial.

In a motion filed Wednesday, the district attorney's office called for a jail sentence of just under 50 years. In her initial trial, she received a 53-year sentence.

The motion argues that Coleman's history of drug use is previous criminal behavior and says it should enhance her sentence.

As the hearing began Friday morning, the parents of Channon Christian took the stand individually to give victim impact statements.

Deena Christian went first.

She described the love she had for her daughter and the pain she's endured since her death.

"A parent is never supposed to bury a child. No one should ever have to see the evil violence that is in my head," Deena said.

She talked about how Channon loved her brother and her friends and family.

She said Channon dreamed about her wedding and having four kids. Deena said Channon hoped her oldest would be a boy, but that now that will never happen.

Then she addressed Coleman's sentencing.

"I plead with the court to do the right thing and give Vanessa Coleman the full sentence," she said. "She gave no mercy, therefore she deserves no mercy."

She then spoke to Coleman directly.

"You were no victim. If you were scared when your mom came to bring you medicine, you could have left. You had a choice," she said. "You have to be possessed with pure evil to do what you did."

Gary Christian took the stand next, speaking slowly and at times glaring and staring down Coleman.

He began by condemning the "lies" defense attorneys have laid against his daughter during the trials of all defendants.

He echoed comments made by his wife that Channon never used drugs and was required to take drug tests by her employer.

He spoke about the heinous nature of Channon's death and said the images shown in court haunted her.

"Every time I see it, every time I shut my eyes. I see horror," Gary said.

He told the court that he received a letter from an inmate who claimed that Coleman said that Christian had "screamed for her daddy" during her torture and murder. He admitted he had no way of corroborating the claim.

He then addressed Coleman directly.

"I hate the fact that you were born. I hate the fact that you draw air," he said. "I will never be able to get to say "yes" to Chris. I'll never be able to give her away. I'll never be able to hold my grandchildren because of you."

He then addressed the court and the sentencing decision that faced them.

"I ask this court to put her away and give her what she deserves and mercy ain't part of it. They destroyed my world," Christian said. "Give her what she deserves."

Assistant District Attorney Leland Price spoke next and gave several enhancement factors for why Coleman should be given a maximum sentence.

He asked that Coleman be given a sentence of 49 years and six months to be served consecutively.

The factors that contributed to that sentence, he said, included Coleman's previous drug use, the exceptional physical and mental cruelty of Christian's death, and the extent of her physical injuries.

"Exceptional cruelty, we think, is well applied as we've laid out the facts and circumstances surrounding this, both the physical and psychological mental cruelty," Price said.

Coleman's attorney Theodore Lavit argued that several mitigating factors should reduce her sentence, including lack of prior conviction of a crime, no evidence tying Coleman to the physical abuse and murder of Coleman and the fact that she was only 18 when the crimes occurred.

"There's no criminal record for her in the juvenile record of Kentucky and there's no record of her as a convicted felon or even a misdemeanor felon," he argued.

Lavit asked for a sentence of 13.5 years and said Coleman, "should be given a chance to rehabilitate her life."

After hearing arguments, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood said that though there was no evidence tying Coleman physically to the crimes, the circumstances of the crime outweighed the mitigating factors Lavit argued.

"There's no way that any of the defendants that were involved in this case can be separated from that psychological fear and cruelty that was inflicted upon this lady," Judge Blackwood said. "It is so horrific that this one factor in and of itself outweighs any mitigating factors that are presented on behalf of the defendant."

"This is a horrible crime. Horrible, senseless, cruel, every word that you can use to describe," he said.

Judge Blackwood then handed down the sentence for Coleman.

She was given 25 years in prison for facilitation of murder, six years total for two counts of facilitating kidnapping, and four years each for facilitation of anal, oral and vaginal rape with those sentences to be served concurrently.

"Consecutive sentences are necessary because the court finds the defendant is a dangerous offender and has no regard for human life and no hesitating about committing a crime in which the risk of human life is high," Blackwood said.

The sentences total 35 years in prison.

Coleman is required to serve 30 percent of her sentence, or 10.5 years.

Since she has already served six years in prison, she could be eligible for parole in as little as 4.5 years.

6 News Reporter STEPHANIE BEECKEN contributed to this report.

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