KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A Knox County judge has approved a plea deal that lessens the time served for convicted murderer George Thomas for his role in the kidnapping, rapes and murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.
According to court documents, Thomas, 36, one of the five people convicted in the brutal Christian-Newsom murders, faced two life sentences plus 25 years before he agreed to testify against Eric Boyd.
Boyd, who had been serving time in connection with the case as an accessory after the fact, had never stood accused in direct connection with the killings.
Prosecutors filed state charges and George Thomas agreed to take the stand testifying that Boyd pulled the trigger and killed Chris Newsom.
Boyd was found guilty by a jury last month on 36 charges.
Thomas was in court late last week, but a plea deal agreement could not be reached Wednesday.
In court Monday afternoon, the judge spent nearly an hour going of Thomas’ plea, county by count, asking for reassurance multiple times that Thomas was fully aware of what he was agreeing to.
Thomas sat in the witness stand, appearing stoic, assuring the judge that he more than understands each and every count.
Thomas’ state deal (for his testimony against Boyd) came in exchange for two 25-year terms with the opportunity to reduce that sentence up to 15 percent based on good behavior during incarceration.
In the end, the judge agreed and Thomas’ first-degree murder charge was reduced to second-degree murder, and the aggravated rape charge became an aggravated assault – which Thomas’ pleaded guilty to Monday.
Before the court was recessed the judge offered the families a moment to give a victim impact statement, only the Newsom’s did.
“I just wanted to thank Thomas for having the courage to do what he did and I don’t believe you were ever a violent criminal,” Mary Newsom said as she addressed Thomas from the courtroom podium. “I don’t think he was really guilty of all those things… he most of the time just sat there and watched TV while everything else was going on. Of course he is guilty because he was there.”
Mary went on to say Thomas did a favor for them that he did not have to, and that Thomas had a lot of guts to come out and face Boyd.
Mary’s husband, Hugh Newsom, says he’s not sure Thomas had enough nerve to act that night, in fear he would be killed.
After court, WATE 6 On Your Side also spoke with Channon Christian’s father Gary, who strongly believes Thomas didn’t tell the whole truth and that he could have saved Channon’s life a thousand times.
“I was all for reducing his sentence but doing him any favors? No. Thanking him for what he did? No. He didn’t do that for my daughter, he did that for himself,” said Gary Christian.
All agreed they had to do what they had to do to get Eric Boyd, that he killed Chris and they knew that for sure.
Thomas will eventually have a shot at parole.
The Knox County District Attorney’s Office confirmed Thomas’ new charges Monday afternoon: Thomas pled guilty to 18 counts of Second Degree Murder along with several additional counts. He received a sentence of fifty years in prison.