Home > Crime > Christian-Newsom – Battle To Block Retrials Continues

Christian-Newsom – Battle To Block Retrials Continues


The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals voted 2-1 not to overturn Judge Blackwood’s ruling to allow retrials for Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas who were convicted and sentenced in the torture killings of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.

Now, Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper is attempting a last effort to halt the retrials by asking the state Supreme Court to intervene and grant an appeal of  Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood’s decision to upend convictions.  The fourth perpetrator, Vanessa Coleman, is not included in the appeal.
While acknowledging Judge Baumgartner’s criminal activity, senior counsel for the AG’s Office, John Bledsoe,  argues Baumgartner’s misconduct doesn’t prove prejudice during the original trials.

Bledsoe wrote, “The sweeping breadth of the lower court’s ruling — that Judge Baumgartner’s out-of-court misconduct warrants new trials, without suggesting any nexus between the misconduct and the actual conduct of the trials — has ominous repercussions for the finality of judgments in all criminal court cases presided over by Judge Baumgartner.”

“Moreover, the ruling, based exclusively on the judge’s behavior outside the courtroom without a scintilla of evidence suggesting actual prejudice, establishes a dangerous precedent, paving the way for virtually a Pandora’s box of future challenges based solely on a judge’s character or extraneous misbehavior, which precedent could also easily be extended to a juror or prosecution.”

Although the state Supreme Court has yet to weigh in, Blackwood has postponed a pretrial motions hearing this week in the cases of Davidson, Cobbins and Thomas.  He will however decide issues in Coleman’s case.

With jury selection in Davidson’s retrial is set to begin in early June, this may indicate Davidson’s retrial will be delayed.



  1. David In TN
    05/15/2012 at 7:30 pm

    Former Judge Richard Baumgartner, who presided over all four trials in the Christian-Newsom murders, has just been arrested on federal drug charges. He was hauled into court today in chains, according to Knoxville News-Sentinel reporter Jamie Satterfield.

    I believe this makes it much more likely that the Tennessee Supreme Court will reject the latest appeal and order the retrials to go forward.

  2. ritanita
    05/15/2012 at 7:31 pm

    It’s good to hear that the Tenn. AG is fighting the decision. I agree with him that the decision to overturn the verdicts is not based on the actual trials and not the awful, criminal behavior of the judge.

    As I recall, the judge’s demeanor on the bench during Vanessa’s trial was a different matter alltogether. He was nodding off and I recall discussing it with you at the time. He was out of it.

    Keeping my fingers crossed that the clerks for the justices read the trial transcripts and brief them as to whether or not there were errors by the judge.

  3. lou
    05/20/2012 at 12:18 pm

    What is the point of a retrial? It’s a total waste of time and money, and will put the families through more torture. The perpetrators are guilty as hell, leave them where they are!

    They had fair trials, everything that has happened to them since their apprehensions has been fair. Unlike what happened to Chris and Channon.

  4. donchais
    05/20/2012 at 12:25 pm


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