Judge rules on motions ahead of George Thomas retrial

Judge rules on motions ahead of George Thomas retrial

Posted:
Judge Walter Kurtz ruled on several motions ahead of George Thomas' retrial. Judge Walter Kurtz ruled on several motions ahead of George Thomas' retrial.
"It will be a brand new trial, but it won't be a fair trial and I am really upset about what happened today. There's no justice left for the victim's families or the victims at all," said Christopher Newsom's mother, Mary. "It will be a brand new trial, but it won't be a fair trial and I am really upset about what happened today. There's no justice left for the victim's families or the victims at all," said Christopher Newsom's mother, Mary.
"We don't have a justice system. The criminals do, but we don't. It's gone," said Channon's father, Gary Christian. "We don't have a justice system. The criminals do, but we don't. It's gone," said Channon's father, Gary Christian.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - With about seven weeks to go until George Thomas' next day in court, the judge made a decision on several pretrial motions Monday in court.
 
Thomas was originally granted a retrial following the revelation that the original judge was addicted to painkillers while presiding over the case.

In January, Judge Walter Kurtz said he couldn't act as thirteenth juror and evaluate the original witness testimony against Thomas, which linked him to the murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, because he was not the present during the original trial.

Witness testimony was especially critical in Thomas' case because of the lack of evidence tying him to the crimes.

Judge Kurtz therefore granted Thomas a new trial, which is set to start May 13.

On Monday, the defense filed numerous motions ahead of the retrial. One asked the judge to exclude pictures of Channon and Chris from the retrial. Another sought to exclude statements allegedly made by Thomas to investigators.

The new judge made several rulings that did not sit well with the families of Channon and Chris.

They said that seven years after the crime, they still do not believe justice has been served.

"We don't have a justice system. The criminals do, but we don't. It's gone," said Channon's father, Gary Christian.

Monday's pretrial hearing for George Thomas' retrial left the Christians and Newsoms unsettled.

"It will be a brand new trial, but it won't be a fair trial and I am really upset about what happened today. There's no justice left for the victim's families or the victims at all," said Christopher Newsom's mother, Mary.

One of the first motions ruled on by the judge was the defense's request to exclude photos of the victims from the trial.

The state said the photos were evidence, but the defense said the photos would inflame the jury. The judge ruled to exclude some of the photos.

It was a ruling the victims families disagreed with.

"Why would the jury not be allowed to see evidence of what they did to our kids and if it's too gruesome then that just goes to the character of how evil these people are," Deena Christian said.

Judge Kurtz is allowing an alleged statement from Thomas to a detective, saying the jury can decide if it's relevant.

The state says the statement is important.

"Why didn't you help her? Why didn't you do something? And the defendant's statement is 'F*** that white girl. She didn't mean anything to me.' Your honor, that shows why he would get involved," Assistant District Attorney Leland Price said.

The judge also ruled the victims families could wear buttons with the victims images only if they sat away from the jurors and behind Thomas.

This ruling caused the victims' families to walk out.

"The victims can't be there because of what they did, so how does a small, three-inch button of Channon or Chris prejudice a jury on what those animals did to our kids?" asked Deena Christian.

In all of the previous trials, the families have been allowed to wear the buttons while sitting behind the prosecution.  

But Judge Kurtz made the point that he did not want certain images of Channon and Chris to pose a threat of biasing the jury.

George Thomas was not in the courtroom Monday.

The judge says he'll make a ruling about jury instruction at a later date.

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