Archive for 04/30/2010

Vanessa Coleman Jury Seated – Trial to Begin and A Refresher of Key Players

04/30/2010 2 comments

~Vanessa Coleman and defense attorney Russell Greene

“You are the jury,” Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner announced this afternoon.

We are one step closer to seeking justice as 12 jurors – 3 men and 9 women – along with 4 alternates – 2 men and 2 women – have been selected for Vanessa Coleman’s murder trial that begins Monday, May 3.  On the jury there are two black women and one black man.  As alternates, there are one black woman and one black man

Jury selection was a long arduous process.  Of the approximately 110 folks in the jury pool, a majority were women.

15 potentials were dismissed on Tuesday.  Many of those dismissed were cut because they said they couldn’t impose the death penalty, which the state is seeking against Coleman.

Wednesday, another 16 were dismissed, again, most saying they could not sign a death warrant due to religious or moral issues.

Judge Baumgartner’s magic number of 54 was reached by the end of Thursday.  The magic number takes into account the 12 person jury, 4 alternates and, if used,  15 challenges from both sides.

A Refresher

All trials have been streamed at

The Victims

21-year old Channon Christian – Parents, Deena and Gary

23-year old Chris Newsom – Parents, Mary and Hugh

The Judge – Has Presided Over All Murder Trials

The Honorable Richard Baumgartner

The Prosecution – Have Prosecuted All Cases

Leland Price

Takisha Fitzgerald

The Defense

David Lavit

Russell Greene

The Perps

Vanessa ‘Nessie’ Coleman – Only female facing death penalty

George ‘G’ Thomas – LWOP

Lemaricus ‘Slim‘ Davidson – Death by lethal injection

Letalvis ‘Rome’ Cobbins – LWOP

Eric ‘E’ Boyd – 18 years, accessory after the fact

(Note:  Throughout the trial you will often hear witnesses refer to the perps by their nicknames.)

See you Monday morning!


Knox News



Casey Anthony Hearings On Steroids

04/30/2010 15 comments

The Honorable Belvin Perry

The anticipation of today’s hearing was actually palpable in the media and blogosphere and I, as thousands of others, eagerly tuned-in.  Judge Belvin Perry didn’t disappoint!  He definitely holds the reigns tightly.

First observation was just how nicely everyone was playing together.  Apparently, gone are the days of sniping and snark!  Even Cindy was on her best behavior – no gum or water bottle.

Second observation, most everybody was convinced the Baez would take the backseat and Mason would be top dog – not so!  Baez was a bit more professional today than we have seen, but still vague on a lot of his responses.  Judge Perry would have none of that and corralled him every time.

The State has 250 on their witness list and have deposed 36 so far.  They have scheduled a day a week just to do depositions.

Baez complained about deposing Oak Ridge Labs and said they won’t cooperate.  Jeff Ashton said he and Kenney Baden have been working together and it looks like Oak Ridge depo may take place in July.  The hold up is the Oak Ridge procedures are proprietary.

Third observation is the Judge won’t allow a dragging of heels in his court.  Baez claims they have been unable to examine all the physical evidence because they have no idea what budget they are working with since Casey has been declared indigent.  (Excuse me – what the hell have you been doing for two years and $200k dollars?)

Judge Perry basically said Baez should have already settled the budget with JAC, yet Baez countered with the same silly argument Mason used with Judge Strickland (so the defense didn’t have to tip it’s hand) to go before a Special Master to resolve the budget.  Perry pretty much told Baez this had to be done next week and he didn’t care if JAC sent someone to Orlando or if it was done telephonically.

Judge Perry set aside May 9, 10, and 11 to hear the outstanding, non–death penalty motions.  That will include the Change of Venue motion.  Perry sort of surprised everyone but saying he is more inclined to find a jury elsewhere and bring them to Orlando and sequester them.  I know from the Christian-Newsom trials that this is actually for more cost efficient than moving the trial elsewhere.  Don’t lose site of the fact, that as Chief Judge, Perry is extremely budget-conscious.

Perry said if this is a sequestered jury we should see the court working 5 1/2 days a week.  9-1 on Saturdays so they can be done and go home ASAP.

May 11 and 12 are set aside for all the death penalty motions.  Andrea Lyon will be in Florida for those!

May will be a very busy month!

Next Judge Perry tried to get an estimate as to the length of the trial itself. He asked Linda Drane Burdick how long she expected the Case in Chief might take.

3-4 weeks was her reply.

Perry asked Baez how long the defense would take and his response was something to the effect, all in all about 6 weeks.

Perry said let me ask again, “how long for the defense case?” and Baez said 3 weeks or less!

Next, Judge Perry wanted to know if the death penalty was the outcome of the trial, how long each side needed for the death penalty phase.

Jeff Ashton, who will handle the death penalty phase for the State, said one day.  Baez and Lyon concurred they will need 5 days!

So, figure you’re in for a two-month haul.

Perry stated he wanted to see the trial begin earlier than the May 9, 2011 date currently proposed.  Perry asked why couldn’t we start on May 2.  Drane Burdick said that was the original date, but Lyon had a personal issue that day.  Lyon told Perry that her daughter was graduating college that day.

Perry said he would approve the 9th but, will issue an order and there would be no postponements allowed!

Perry told both sides that status hearings will be held every 45 days to ensure everything is on track and all parties are on schedule.

So far, I’m liking the new sheriff in town, his no nonsense style and his git ‘er done attitude!