Murder victims Channon Christian, Christoper Newsom
I just finished watching live streaming on WATE.com out of Knoxville, Tennessee, the hearing regarding granting new trials for the convicted killers (Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman) in the Christian-Newsom murders. Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood granted the defendants new trials.
Occasionally the camera would pan to the parents of the two victims in the gallery. My heart went out to those parents and their extended families who will now have to sit through these trials and hear the gruesome details of what happened to their children all over again.
Blackwood could not contain his anger and disgust in revealing the tawdry details of Judge Richard Baumgartner's criminal actions while presiding over the Christian-Newsome cases. He sounded like an angry preacher at the pulpit. Blackwood, in his summation, stated that Baumgartner (who presided over drug court) knew since 2008 that he was addicted to pain pills. Blackwood stated that Baumgartner could of, at that time, stepped down from the bench but chose to continue taking pills. It's my understanding that the full details of Judge Baumgartner's crimes were initially sealed in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's (TBI) report. It was turned over to the defense attorney's back in September of this year. However, both the prosecution and defense attorney's agreed that the report would be treated as evidence in the hearing. Baumgartner's crimes included (but not limited to) trading drugs from defendant's who came before him in drug court to having sex in his chambers with a prostitute (Castleman) that he bought a phone for and paid some of her bills.
Some details from the hearing tweeted by WATE.com. (Thanks to my friend Carolina Blue, who also watched the hearing on live stream.)
"Baumgartner's physician, Dr. Dean Conley, tried to wean Baumgartner off his addiction and urged him to retire in 2008. Baumgartner admitted his addiction, but said he needed another three years on the bench."
"The TBI found that during breaks in Davidson's trial, Baumgartner would visit Castleman at St. Mary's Hospital behind closed doors for 15-20 minutes at a time. He told hospital employees he was her attorney."
"Baumgartner's assistant, Jennifer Judy, passed him a note during the Coleman trial when he slumped his head down. It said, "Sit up or get off the bench. You're disrespecting the families." "
Thanks to guest writer David in Tennessee, here is a link to a web chat with Knoxville reporter Jamie Satterfield, answering questions about Judge Baumgartner and the upcoming retrials.
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