Thursday, January 28, 2010

For The Christian-Newsom Families The Suffering Continues

~Deena Christian, second from right, weeps in court

Although the brutal torture and murders occurred 3 years ago there has been no closure for the families of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. The families have not been idle in seeking justice not only for their children, but they are attempting to have laws changed to benefit all victims. Gary and Deena Christian and Hugh and Mary Newsom still face numerous court rulings and another trial.

Tomorrow is a status hearing for Vanessa "Nessa" Coleman, the only female charged in the murder case. Coleman's attorneys want the charges dropped because they claim for Coleman's agreeing to testify against Eric Boyd, federal agents offered or indicated she could receive immunity.

If the charges stand against Coleman her trial is slated to begin May 10.

Letalvis "Rome" Cobbins was convicted last August and sentenced to life without parole on murder and rape charges. He will appear before Judge Richard Baumgartner on February 4 for sentencing on all the lesser charges.

George "G" Thomas was convicted in December and also sentenced to life without parole. He will be back in court for sentencing on the lesser charges on February 26.

Unbelievably, the Tennessee Department of Corrections sent Thomas to the Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville. Yup, they did it again - Tiptonville is a
medium- security facility! The same thing they did with Cobbins. Both are now residing in a maximum security facility, but only after protests by the families.

Remember, during the Thomas trial the defense filed a 24 page motion for acquittal. Judge Baumgartner reserved ruling and instructed the State to file a response

In mid-January, Thomas' attorneys acknowledge that their request is not yet complete, but they needed to file the motion for a new trial within 30 days of the order of sentence.

Thomas' attorneys argue there wasn't sufficient evidence to convict Thomas and that the admission of Thomas' statements to police was unconstitutional.

For those who followed the Lemarcus Davidson trial, you may recall the outrage of the families, as well as the public, when defense attorneys
Doug Trant and David Eldridge basically besmirched the reputations of Channon and Chris by saying that is was possible that they may well have known Davidson and willing went to him to purchase drugs.

No, there is absolutely no proof of that! What was suggested by the defense was said to try to create doubt for the jury. However, the lines of honor, and respectability where crossed when these words were uttered in court. Is it acceptable for defense to lie about the victims? I think not!

Tennessee State Senators Tim Burchett, Randy McNally and Representative Ryan Haynes are working with the families on two pieces of legislation. The first would automatically make maximum-security prison the immediate destination for anyone convicted of murder in Tennesse. Logically, this should be in place in all states!

The second piece of legislation could have a dramatic effect on defense attorneys. The law would basically hold defense lawyers
criminally liable for any unproven claims made during a trial. Again, this should be in place in all states!

Senator Tim Burchett said, "Those young people suffered enough indignity, and their families have, too. At some point somebody has got to do something for the victims."

Gary and Denna Christian discuss victim's reputations.

Thank you David from Tennessee for sharing some of the information!




Anonymous said...

If you look at the comments to Knoxville News-Sentinel articles, you will find a few people who do not approve of the way Gary Christian has conducted himself. They say he is "over the top" and should "let it go." You will note that in the video above, Mr. Christian is lucid and reasonable.

Sharon Rocha, in her book about the murder of her daughter, Laci Peterson, wrote that someone whose child is murdered has the right to grieve how they want to and as long as they want to.

David From TN

ritanita said...

David, thank you for getting us all information, and Donchais, thanks for keeping us apprised on the cases.

Each and every person who knew these two young people and certainly the members of their families have suffered beyond what anyone would have to suffer with their losses and the knowledge of the horrendous way in which Channon and Chris died.

I've read Vanessa Coleman's statement to police, it's a horrendous document. She, and everyone who was in that little house had a part in the crime. None of them should ever be free again.

Anonymous said...


Has the judge ruled on the Motion For Acquittal? I read the motion and the State response, but have not read anything about a final ruling from Judge Baumgartner.

Anonymous said...

No, the judge hasn't ruled on the Motion For Acquittal in the Thomas case. Presumably, he will on Friday.

Regarding Coleman, I think the authorities at first thought she might not have been that involved. She was interviewed four times, I believe. As Ritanita says, her account was horrendous.

She admits being present but claims to have seen nothing. Then she gives conflicting accounts regarding Chris Newsom whom she otherwise didn't see. Another time, Coleman said she gave Channon a glass of water.

Those of us who have studied the case are certain Coleman did something besides handing Channon a glass of water.

The victims were tortured horrifically but everybody present in the house either claimed to have seen and done nothing, or in the case of Cobbins (and his lawyers), claimed to be "following orders" from his half-brother Davidson. This is why trying each suspect separately made each trial tense and difficult. Each suspect blamed the others.

David From TN

donchais said...


The nice thing about this country is everyone is entitled to an opinion, but I do take issue with several of your "assumptions". This is called opinion!

First, I was not whining (your characterization was a bit rude). I was merely recapping some news and current issues and expressing my opinions - just as T&T management has allowed you to. This is called fact!

Perhaps if you had paid closer attention, you would know that employment drug testing was negative – so those parents painted the kids exactly as they were – sweet and innocent. This is called fact!

So, the negative, unfounded allegations were a lie and yes, I am not the only one truly tired of watching victims and their families not only suffer the ultimate losses due to murder, torture, and rape, but to have to listen to out-and-out lies that denigrate the memory of their loved ones is a despicable ploy. There is something ultimately broken in a system where victims have no rights. You will see this theme throughout many of the cases T&T follows both by authors and commentors. This is called opinion!

The system as is – allows the defense to make any bogus statements they want without offering proof. Your claim about prosecutors and, “the crap they pull”? Just remember, the prosecution has the burden of proof and they legally have to provide evidence whereas the defense doesn’t. Silly, little things like DNA, weapons, witnesses, and such! This is called fact!

Your misguided statement about, “these folks want to actually be able to sue these defense attorney's and make money off their dead kids. How sick is that? I mean they could file a civil suit against the defendants I suppose and they would get a huge judgement that would never be paid because these defendants have no money to their names at all,” is wrong on so many levels. What follows is called fact!

1. How the heck would you file a civil suit against the defendants? They didn’t utter the slander, the defense attorney did!
2. You’re libeling of the parents for wanting, “to make money of their dead kids” and calling them ‘sick’ is as troublesome as defense attorneys lying in court! Let me put it in focus for you – who said anybody was suing? Where did it say they were suing?
3. If that law does get passed, it will be by the state of Tennessee, not the parents. I strongly doubt – nah, I’m fairly positive it will not be made retroactive. So what exactly do the Christian and Newsom’s get? Nada, bupkus – except for the knowledge they may have lessened the trauma for others in the future.

I hope this helps you to have a better understanding of the blog entry as it was intended.

Karen C. said...


Seriously, are you familiar with this case at all? Have you read the ME's report, or any of the statements? Watched any of the trial video clips? These young victims were NOT out cruising for drugs, the perps wanted a nicer vehicle to jack, and THEY found the kids- then it was party time for the perps and torture and rape for both victims (and hours and hours of that for Channon- read the ME report!)

It looks like this aw would basically mean that a defense team cannot smear the victims WITHOUT ANY PROOF (and there was NONE in this case), in a maddening attempt to make their client look somehow less culpable. IOW, You're going to call Channon a druggie- prove it or it's slander! Personally, I think that's a great thing- look at the Preppy Murder case in NYC, how differently that might have gone if the "Oh, she liked rough sex" CRAP had been pulled out of there!

And frankly, if I had a male loved one serving time in a medium-security facility I would be very unhappy at the idea of him having to be anywhere around these guys, whom we now know raped Newsom as well...

CaliGirl9 said...

In California, all felons convicted of murder enter the system as a custody level IV—the strictest level. A select few will leave the intake facility a level III (I suspect this is the case with our good buddy Phil Spector; he's not really a danger to anyone working in custody, and his challenges involve keeping him safe, not others safe from him). With good behavior this same inmate can work his way to a level II. I worked with a trio of level II inmates in the prison hospital. Twenty years later, two are likely out on parole.

I was gobsmacked to read that Tennessee assigned Thomas to anything but maximum security from the hop. I don't know if Tennessee "rates" its inmates like California does, but I guess it seems we might be doing something right in California for a change!

Anonymous said...

When the protest came over Cobbins being sent to medium security after being convicted in the most horrendous murders of living memory in Tennessee, the state prison officials responded in typical bureaucratic language. As I recall, they said that Cobbins didn't seem danngerous enough for maximum security confinement, or words to that effect. The exact same thing happened with Thomas.

David From TN

Karen C. said...

And if these POSs aren't dangerous, who in bloody blazes is???

Anonymous said...

This crime was horrendous and it is easy for any caring person to understand the grief Gary Christian feels. There is no doubt he loved his daughter and have to know how she lived her last hours only to be stuffed in a garbage can by a bunch of uncaring animals to sufficate to death should make any parent mad beyond belief. Then to have the two attorneys for Davidson so much as try to say these kids were cruising for drugs with absolutely no proof other than the mouths of the attorneys would drive a hole in anyone's heart.

Anonymous said...

The defense attorneys for Lemaricus Davidson had access to all the statements of all the defendants (Cobbins, Coleman, Thomas). Having this access, they knew without doubt that Christian and Newsom were carjacked. Yet, they tried to convince a jury from Chattanooga that Christian and Newsom were cruising for drugs, just because the jurors had no knowledge of the crime. Does the law allow attorneys to claim a theory that they know is false? I thought they could not advance a theory that they knew absolutely to be false. The attorneys actions seem unethical and slimey.

Anonymous said...


In Tennessee, convicted murderers do not enter the system at the strictest level as in California. This story ( has the explanation from Dorinda Carter, Tennessee Department of Corrections spokesperson as to why Letalvis Cobbins was placed in medium security.

Carter said DoC considers where a crime occured and Cobbins was placed in West Tennesse because the crime was in East Tennessee. It was because of "safety issues." As to why Cobbins was placed in medium security, Carter said every inmate is given a custody assesment when they are first brought into the system. In Cobbins assesment at the Charles Bass Correctional Complex, he was rated at medium on the incarceration level.

Most inmates are given a medium classification when entering the system.

Maximum is reserved for death row and inmates who have an assaultive or escape-prone past during incarceration. Medium security prisoners can work or attend classes.

Maximum security prisoners have to spend almost the entire day in their cells. Medium security prisoners do not.

Without the protest, Cobbins would be doing "easy time" in medium security. The "safety issues" the DoC was concerned about was Cobbins' personal safety.

David From TN

Karen C. said...

I'd be quite happy to see Cobbins reduced to a drooling zombie out of the pure boredom of looking at the walls all day, myself. Pity we have to feed him, though...