Jury selection gets underway for George Thomas retrial

Jury selection gets underway in Nashville for George Thomas retrial

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George Thomas (source: Tennessee Corrections) George Thomas (source: Tennessee Corrections)

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

NASHVILLE (WATE) - Jury selection for the retrial of Christian-Newsom defendant George Thomas got off to a poor start Thursday morning when only 120 of the 480 people subpoenaed for the selection process showed up.

The jury pool from Davidson County will be pared down to a dozen jurors and several alternates to hear the second trial of Thomas next week.

Thomas was found guilty in December 2009 of 38 counts related to the abduction, rape and slayings of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom and he was given a life sentence without the chance of parole.

The convictions were later tossed out and a new trial ordered after an investigation showed former judge Richard Baumgartner had been abusing prescription pain pills while presiding over Thomas' trial.

Judge Walter Kurtz ordered that jurors were to be selected from Davidson County citizens because of publicity of the previous trials.

Thomas' retrial is scheduled to begin Monday in Knox County.

After the initial screening process, potential jurors were asked about hardship, medical issues and other reasons they may not be able to serve as a juror.

From the group, about 80 people remained. They were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their knowledge of the Christian-Newsom case.

Following a lunch break, the judge excused another five potential jurors based on their answers to questionnaires, leaving another 75 potential jurors.

Forty-six people were dismissed and asked to return Friday morning for more questioning because they had no prior knowledge of the case.

Judge Kurtz gave them a strict order not to watch or read any state news, saying he wanted to make sure the potential jurors weren't tainted.

Later in the afternoon, 29 people were asked about their knowledge of the case. Several were dismissed based on their answers.

The selection process is expected to resume at 9 a.m. CST Friday. Judge Kurtz expects to have the jury seated by Friday evening.

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