Thomas sentenced to two life sentences plus 25 years in prison

Thomas sentenced to two life sentences plus 25 years in prison

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Mary Newsom gives her impact statement. Mary Newsom gives her impact statement.
George Thomas listens as the families take the stand. George Thomas listens as the families take the stand.
"The sentence that I impose should be commensurate with the abhorrence of this crime," Judge Walter Kurtz said. "The sentence that I impose should be commensurate with the abhorrence of this crime," Judge Walter Kurtz said.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - George Thomas was sentenced to back-to-back life sentences with another 25 years at a sentencing hearing on Tuesday.

In May, a second jury found Christian-Newsom defendant George Thomas guilty on all 38 charges for his role in the torture, rape, kidnapping and murders of the Knoxville couple.

He was sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder charges. In his original trial, he received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom were brutally kidnapped, raped and murdered at a home in East Knoxville in January 2007.

This was the second trial for Thomas. The 38 guilty verdicts were thrown out in January 2013 following an earlier revelation that the original presiding judge was addicted to pain pills during the trial.

On Tuesday, Judge Walter Kurtz listened to impact statements from Chris' parents, Mary and Hugh Newsom, his sister, Andrea Bowers, and Channon's parents, Deena and Gary Christian.

"Thomas, you will never suffer as much as I have," Mary Newsom said to Thomas in her victim impact statement. "I am haunted every day by the image of my son burnt and charred by the side of the railroad track."

The state cited several enhancement factors as reason to maximize Thomas' prison time, including the severity of the injuries, the exceptional cruelty in the case, and Thomas' previous convictions.

Defense attorney Steven Johnson asked for the sentenced to be served concurrently, arguing that Thomas' criminal history was not substantial and that there was no proof tying him directly to the crimes.

Judge Kurtz disagreed and questioned the time element of the crimes. He said that Channon had been alive for roughly 24 hours after her kidnapping and Chris spent three to five hours at the Chipman Street house before he was killed.

The judge said it was ample time for Thomas to decide to intervene in the crimes.

"I've presided over a considerable number of cases," Kurtz said. "This case is hardly matched by anything in my experience."

He called it a crime of "depravity and cruelty."

"The sentence that I impose should be commensurate with the abhorrence of this crime," he said.

Kurtz sentenced Thomas to serve the two life sentences for murder consecutively.

He also sentenced Thomas to 25 years, to be served concurrently with each other, for the kidnapping and robbery charges and another 25 years for each of the four rape charges to be served concurrently with each other.

But the rape charges as a whole will be served consecutively.

In total, Thomas will serve two life sentences back to back plus an additional 25 years in prison.

If it was just one life sentence, with good behavior, Thomas would be eligible for parole in 51 years. But they're stacked together, so when you add on 21 years minimum for the rape conviction and take away six years he's already served, you get 117 years.

At age 30, Thomas would have to survive to be 147 years old before he would be eligible for parole.

For the families it was a day of justice in court.

"I am very happy he will never see the light of day outside of those walls," Deena Christian said.

All four parents spoke directly to Thomas during the impact statements. Hugh Newsom point blank asked Thomas if it was true he once admitted remorse for killed Chris Newsom.

Thomas replied,"No, it isn't."

"It gave him a chance to respond and if he had any remorse he could display it and I saw none," Hugh Newsom said.

It was the 303rd time the families have been in court and it was a day they've been waiting for.

"The kids are smiling," Deena Christian said with a smile.

The families believe Judge Kurtz handed down a fair sentence and plan to continue their fight for justice in years to come.

"That judge and that way of thinking is what we're going to be fighting for the next 20 years," Gary Christian said.

Gary Christian told 6 News they plan to fight for victim's rights and are already talking to lawmakers about two laws that would help ensure what has happened to their families doesn't happen to anyone else.

Thomas' attorney's are in the process of filing for a new trial. That hearing is scheduled for July 2.

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