Home > Crime > Christian-Newson – Are You Kidding Me?

Christian-Newson – Are You Kidding Me?


imagesThe 2007 carjack, rape, torture and murder of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom is one of the most horrific crimes I have ever followed.

The defendants have all been tried, but the insanity doesn’t stop there.

Lemaricus Davidson was sentenced to death.  Half-brother, Letalvis Cobbins was given LWOP, as was Cobbins buddy, George Thomas.  Vanessa Coleman, Cobbins’ girlfriend, received 53 years for facilitation of the crimes.

But, things only got crazier.  The presiding judge, Richard Baumgartner was charged with abusing prescription painkillers and never signed off as the thirteenth juror.

Judge Jon Blackwood was assigned to the cases and all four defendants filed for retrials.  Blackwood ok’d those retrials and the ensuing legal battle over that decision led to the appellate court appointing Judge Walter Kurtz to step in.

Long story short,  Davidson and Cobbins’ appeals were denied due to the amount of DNA evidence.  The lack of DNA evidence for George Thomas has led to a retrial which begins on May 13,  pretrial motions will be heard on March 25.  Coleman was retried last year, after the charges against her for Chris Newsom were removed, she was again found guilty of facilitation and sentenced to 35 years.  She is eligible for her first parole hearing in about 4 and a half years.

With me so far?  Coleman has been found guilty, not once, but twice!images-1

Her attorney, Ted Lavit is pompous and egotistical to put it mildly!  Last week, he had the audacity to file a motion seeking another retrial and/or acquittal.

Lavit is funded by Vanessa’s parent, both of whom work two jobs, if I remember correctly.

The kicker is his arguments!

1.  Coleman should have received immunity for testifying before a federal grand jury.  This was argued about ad nauseam in the first trial.  Early on, the Feds initially got involved in the kidnap, rape, torture and murders because the defendants high-tailed it over state lines.  There had been some discussion if Coleman turned, she might (‘might’ being the pivotal word) be offered some form of immunity.  It was quickly decided all the crimes had occurred in Knoxville, therefore the Feds turned the case over to the state.  The state never considered immunity because she lied to the grand jury!

2.  The state should not have introduced graphic color crime scene photos.  Well heck, they were graphic, they are what happened in real life, or the taking of real life.  Coleman was there, it’s exactly how she saw it!

3. The evidence in the case was insufficient.  If so, how did two separate juries find her guilty?

4.  The racial make up of the jury was unfair because a disproportionate number of black jurors were dismissed because of their criminal backgrounds.  Hmmm, criminals being the jury for other criminals?  Fox watching the hen house, methinks.

So, I’m angry beyond belief for any number of reasons.

Lavit’s arguments are such BS he should be disbarred for stupidity and wasting the court’s time.

How long does he think Coleman’s folks can foot his ridiculous, questionable legal fees?

Here’s where I really go round-the-bend and what I believe is one of the larger issues in what’s wrong with our system.

The state can never ask for a retrial based on a little thing called double jeopardy.  They can’t just keep calling for do-overs until they get the result they wanted.

Well, what about the rights of the VICTIMS?  What about their families?  What about their friends?  How many times do they have to relive the horrendous nightmare they have been living for over six years?  When do they finally get the time to grieve the loss of their beloved children and friends?

There is something wrong with the system when the rights of the defendants far outweigh the rights of the innocent!

Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance



  1. Stacey
    03/11/2013 at 2:16 pm

    Being from Tennessee this case has been one that I have followed endlessly, It sicken’s me to think of what these so called human’s did to this couple. This is by far the worst trial I have ever watched and the craziness that occured with the judge and the drugs just infuriates me. I hope that Channon and Chris get the justice they so deserve even though in my opinion they all should have gotten the death pentalty. God bless and give strength to the family of Chris and Channon.

  2. Fran Cording
    03/11/2013 at 2:19 pm

    It is so heartbreaking and infuriating to read about this case. I am going to sign the petition as soon as I finish here. Our jurisprudence system has gone to hell in a handbasket, hasn’t it. Now the expression “Crime Does Not Pay” has been changed to “Crime Pays” – Do whatever you want because there are no consequences.” So, so sorry for your continued pain. Pray that you win your fight.

  3. MMD
    03/11/2013 at 3:06 pm

    Ok donchais, as you know I haven’t followed this trial and I am from another country. That being said, I thought that if you had a felony conviction that you were disqualified from serving on a jury?

    I also agree that crime does seem to pay in the States especially when you have idiot attorneys. The arguments seem beyond ridiculous plus they have been convicted twice! Gimme a break! Victims seem to have very few rights and anybody accused of a crime has more rights than the average citizen.

    Then you have the whole crossing state lines laws and then you get into a hell of a mess with various jurisdictions, power struggles and no one wanting to cooperate with any other LE agency. IMO, the laws should be same right across the board but who the hell am I – just an outsider looking in. The only thing that can be done is to make sure that you vote in lawmakers who are going to reform the legal system. With the way congress works currently I don’t think that is going to happen in our lifetime.

    While we have double jeopardy as well, if new evidence comes to light then the Crown will get a new trial. So for instance if a defendant walked out of court and said I did this, this is how I did it and here is the evidence (I’m talking very broadly), back to jail he would go and recharged.

    I’m not saving we have a great system because we have just as many problems. Hell, life here is 25 years! Just ask anyone from here about Carla Homolka and Paul Bernardo.

    All I know, is that if I was the family of the victim, especially of one who suffered the way you say, I would simply check out. I simply would not be able to tolerate that much pain, especially with the legal system re twisting the knife in my heart over and over and over. There is only so much person can take.

    My deepest sympathies and prayers for the families of these victims.

    • donchais
      03/11/2013 at 3:36 pm

      Guess I would have to say, I wouldn’t want any other system, but I sure as heck want to see many changes from what we have evolved into over the past several years. I am totally aware some defendants have been railroaded and convicted wrongly and I am truly offended by that as well.

      The ‘protecting the criminals’ pendulum has swung so far toward left at the expense of the common folks, their families and friends as well.

      With all the hearings and trials, over the past 6 years, the families have attended court over 300 times in support of their loved-ones. This is beyond acceptable and nobody should have to tolerate it!

  4. David In TN
    03/12/2013 at 1:42 am

    About the 13th Juror issue, Baumgartner never gave it after any of the four verdicts and sentencing hearings he presided over. Why didn’t he do so if the 13th Juror was so important?

    As for Lavit complaining too many blacks were excluded from the jury pool, the jury for the second Coleman trial was selected in Jackson, Tennessee, which is over 300 miles west of Knoxville. Judge Blackwood picked a county (Madison) with a high black population.

    The original jury had seven blacks and five whites, many blacks struck by the prosecution had criminal records. Lavit is claiming this was unfair.

    When the bus left Jackson for Knoxville, one of the jurors didn’t show up, so the jury that convicted Coleman on 13 of 17 counts was evenly split, six whites and six blacks.

    Will a higher court demand a third trial for Coleman?

  5. NancyB
    03/12/2013 at 4:03 am

    My sentiments mirror yours in total.

  6. ritanita
    03/12/2013 at 10:11 am

    Dochais, families of victims truly come last in our justice system. While there are now victim advocates, there is nothing they can do to alleviate the unending appeals.

    They will soon be going into their 5th trial and will go through the same agony they did with the previous 4. By the time Coleman’s latest appeal is heard, and denied, there will be more stress for them.

    The Christian and Newsom families and friends have been through so much grief which they can’t start to heal from. They deserve a respite from the intense legalistic drama which has been in their life for so many years.

    The saddest part is that it will never end for them. When “Nessa” comes up for parole, they will be back to testify why she should not be released. This will happen, with luck, over and over again for the rest of her sentence, if they are so fortunate.

  7. Mindy
    03/13/2013 at 10:49 am

    RIGHT ON!!!
    I agree with every word you said.
    Vanessa is where she belongs.
    I hope she never gets a new trial or released early. Trashing the victims in a trial should not be ALLOWED. Our justice system can be so frustrating!

  8. 03/14/2013 at 2:03 pm

    This case is one of the worst cases I have ever followed. ‘Nessa needs to be sitting on Death Row along with Davidson. In fact, they all need to be there. ‘Nessa admitted to giving Channon a drink of water, for crying out loud. She could have stopped the raping and killing of Channon if she wanted to do so. I believe with all my heart that ‘Nessa was the one who kicked Channon in the genitals.

    I can not believe that Channon and Chris’s families have to continue going through all of this crap.

    I still think there is a possibility that Eric Boyd will be charged on the state level. He deserves to be sitting on Death Row too.

  9. David In TN
    03/15/2013 at 12:38 am


    I’ve followed this case for six years and attended both Coleman trials. Yes, I also believe it was Coleman who inflicted the wounds you refer to. I saw the autopsy photos at the November retrial.

    As for Boyd, he was shrewd enough not to admit to being in the Chipman Street house. Cobbins said at his interrogation that Boyd took part in the carjacking, but this can’t be used against Boyd unless Cobbins agreed to testify against Boyd in court.

    Will HLN cover the retrial of George Thomas in May?

  10. CL
    03/20/2013 at 6:29 pm

    I’m with ya’ donchais! Bless you for your dedication to the victim’s of these horrific crimes! ^j^

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