Vanessa Coleman, May 13th, 2010
Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood will decide whether Christopher Newsom will be treated as if he never existed in the November retrial of one of four defendants in the January 2007 torture-murders of Newsom and his girlfriend Channon Christian.
Vanessa Coleman's attorney, Ted Lavit, contends that because she was acquitted of charges directly relating to Newsom's kidnapping, rape, and murder, the prosecution should be barred from introducing any evidence relating to Newsom at her retrial.
Assistant District Attorney General Takisha Fitzgerald disagreed at Monday's hearing. "The state would disagree with Mr. Lavit of having been acquitted of all charges related to Christopher Newsom," she said.
Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Jamie Satterfield wrote: "Fitzgerald and prosecutorial partner Leland Price are hanging their legal hats on a single count of felony murder, of which Coleman was deemed a facilitator. That count involves the slaying of Newsom's girlfriend, Channon Christian, in the perpetration of the kidnapping of Newsom."
Fitgerald argues that Newsom's death is relevant to establishing the charge of kidnapping.
The jury in Coleman's first trial acquitted her of every charge relating to Newsom and found her guilty of facilitation only regarding Channon Christian's rape and murder. This verdict is the reason for the current situation. Coleman can only be retried on the counts she was found guilty of in the first trial because of double jeopardy.
Here is a video report from WBIR with comments from the victims' parents.
Coleman's hair has been dyed red in prison.