This is the run down house on Chipman Street in Knoxville, TN that Chris Newsom and Channon Christian were driven to to spend their last hours on earth. Chris and Channon had planned to meet up on January 7, 2007 in the evening to go to a friend's birthday party. Channon had stayed at her best friends apartment waiting for Chris. Her friend went ahead so Channon could stay and wait for Chris who had played golf all day with his best friend. As they left the apartment together to head for the party and Chris was leaning over in Channon's Toyota to give her a quick kiss before he got in his truck to follow her they were attacked by two men holding a gun. They forced Channon and Chris into the vehicle and drove them to Chipman Street blindfolded.
From what we know they were carjacked from the Washington Ridge Apartments around 10:30 that night. At around 12:30 am they forced Channon to call her parents to tell them she would be late. She gave no indication she was in trouble on that call to her father. It is thought that they probably threatened to kill Chris if she did not make the call and they would possibly let them go. Then the real horror began for these two scared kids. First of all there were five perpetrators who were involved in this horrific crime. I will not go in to detail all the horrific acts that were done to Chris and Channon (if you want to know more you can google the story). Just know that it is absolutely inhuman and pure evil to torture, rape and murder two young kids who did nothing to them. They were cruel, degrading and without remorse or conscious. They viscously raped Chris and forced Channon to watch pretty early on and then tortured and raped Channon for hours. Both were penetrated with an object and both were beaten. They were given no water or food and the autopsy report said their stomachs were empty and dry.They took Chris out in the cold with a belt around his neck, no shoes and shot him on the railroad tracks, lit him on fire and left him there. They savagely attacked Channon over a couple of days and then tried to break her neck. They believed she was dead and stuffed her into a large rubber trash can in the house with a plastic bag over her head. She was still alive and died with her eyes open.
We salute the Waste Connections Company - The remarkable thing about this is that this home was next to a waste connections company and a worker was early and waiting in his car before starting his shift. He noticed Channon's vehicle with the criminals in it and thought it was a little off. They kind of spooked him when they went by but he went to work not knowing what was happening in the house next door. After the story came out he felt so horrible it took a while to come back to work. The owner of the waste conncections company purchased the property and had the house torn down. They have since established a memorial on the property in remembrance of Chris and Channon.
Chris and Channon both were of Christian Faith
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Update from Knoxville News (November 25, 2012)
It was an unthinkable crime — a young Knox County couple out on a date kidnapped by strangers, bound, beaten, tortured, raped and slain.Christopher Newsom, 23, a Halls High School graduate and gifted tradesman, was led barefoot to a set of railroad tracks in East Knoxville, shot execution-style and his body set on fire. Channon Christian, 21, a Farragut High School graduate and University of Tennessee senior, was hog-tied and stuffed alive inside a trash can, where she slowly suffocated.
A small army of federal, state and local law enforcers soon rounded up five suspects in the January 2007 torture-slayings, four charged in the slayings and a fifth suspected but charged only as an accessory.
With the defendants all black and the victims white, the case quickly drew the attention of white supremacist groups, who staged demonstrations in downtown Knoxville. Authorities pushed back, noting there was no evidence the crimes were racially motivated. Accused ringleader Lemaricus Davidson, whose Chipman Street home proved a house of horrors for Christian and Newsom, dated a white woman. So, too, had his brother Letalvis Cobbins and his friend George Thomas.
Eric Boyd was the first to stand trial. Although authorities have long suspected his involvement in the rape and slaying of Newsom, Boyd never admitted being at the Chipman Street house, and the burning of Newsom's body destroyed DNA evidence. He was convicted in a federal court of accessory to a fatal carjacking and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Next came the trials in Knox County Criminal Court of Cobbins, Davidson, Thomas and Cobbins' current girlfriend, Vanessa Coleman. The cases would cost millions to prosecute.
Cobbins shocked even his own defense team when he opted to testify on his own behalf, claiming Christian offered oral sex in hopes of being set free. A jury from Nashville bused to Knox County convicted him in the crimes against Christian but deemed him a facilitator only in the crimes against Newsom. He was sentenced to life without parole.
Davidson offered his own shocking defense, claiming Christian and Newsom came to his home to buy drugs. A Knox County jury sentenced him to death. Thomas, tried by a Hamilton County jury, was convicted in both slayings and sentenced to life without parole.
Coleman, who was 18 at the time of the slayings, insisted she herself was a victim of violent, domineering men, too afraid to try to stop the atrocities being committed against Christian and Newsom. A Nashville jury acquitted her of any role in the crimes against Newsom and convicted her as a facilitator only in the crimes against Christian. She was sentenced to 53 years in prison.
All were packed away to prison when, in January 2011, the judge who had presided over the trials — Richard Baumgartner — abruptly left the bench. The News Sentinel soon revealed he was the subject of a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe for buying prescription painkillers from a felon on probation in his court and using a graduate of the Drug Court program he helped found to get pills and sex.
He pleaded guilty to an official misconduct charge but escaped with his pension. Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood would later release a portion of the TBI file on Baumgartner that showed he had been committing crimes, including doctor-shopping, throughout the Christian/Newsom cases.
Baumgartner had not yet fulfilled his role as "13th juror" in affirming the verdicts in the Christian/Newsom case when he resigned. Because of that, Blackwood ordered new trials. Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols immediately fought against both Blackwood's findings and the judge himself.
Although the Tennessee Supreme Court would eventually uphold Blackwood's new trial orders, the court wound up removing Blackwood from the cases of Davidson, Cobbins and Thomas. The state did not challenge Coleman's retrial order primarily because Baumgartner confessed taking Xanax during her trial.
Coleman was retried and again found guilty on facilitation charges. A new judge, Senior Judge Walter Kurtz, has set a Dec. 13 hearing on whether Davidson, Cobbins and Thomas should be awarded new trials.
Baumgartner was convicted last month in federal court of five counts of lying to protect his mistress's role in a drug conspiracy and lost his pension as a result. He faces a March sentencing hearing.
Deena Christian went first.
She described the love she had for her daughter and the pain she's endured since her death.
"A parent is never supposed to bury a child. No one should ever have to see the evil violence that is in my head," Deena said.
She talked about how Channon loved her brother and her friends and family.
She said Channon dreamed about her wedding and having four kids. Deena said Channon hoped her oldest would be a boy, but that now that will never happen.
Then she addressed Coleman's sentencing.
"I plead with the court to do the right thing and give Vanessa Coleman the full sentence," she said. "She gave no mercy, therefore she deserves no mercy."
She then spoke to Coleman directly.
"You were no victim. If you were scared when your mom came to bring you medicine, you could have left. You had a choice," she said. "You have to be possessed with pure evil to do what you did."
Gary Christian took the stand next, speaking slowly and at times glaring and staring down Coleman.
He began by condemning the "lies" defense attorneys have laid against his daughter during the trials of all defendants.
He echoed comments made by his wife that Channon never used drugs and was required to take drug tests by her employer.
He spoke about the heinous nature of Channon's death and said the images shown in court haunted her.
"Every time I see it, every time I shut my eyes. I see horror," Gary said.
He told the court that he received a letter from an inmate who claimed that Coleman said that Christian had "screamed for her daddy" during her torture and murder. He admitted he had no way of corroborating the claim.
He then addressed Coleman directly.
"I hate the fact that you were born. I hate the fact that you draw air," he said. "I will never be able to get to say "yes" to Chris. I'll never be able to give her away. I'll never be able to hold my grandchildren because of you."
He then addressed the court and the sentencing decision that faced them.
"I ask this court to put her away and give her what she deserves and mercy ain't part of it. They destroyed my world," Christian said. "Give her what she deserves."
Assistant District Attorney Leland Price spoke next and gave several enhancement factors for why Coleman should be given a maximum sentence.
He asked that Coleman be given a sentence of 49 years and six months to be served consecutively.
The factors that contributed to that sentence, he said, included Coleman's previous drug use, the exceptional physical and mental cruelty of Christian's death, and the extent of her physical injuries.
"Exceptional cruelty, we think, is well applied as we've laid out the facts and circumstances surrounding this, both the physical and psychological mental cruelty," Price said.
Coleman's attorney Theodore Lavit argued that several mitigating factors should reduce her sentence, including lack of prior conviction of a crime, no evidence tying Coleman to the physical abuse and murder of Coleman and the fact that she was only 18 when the crimes occurred.
"There's no criminal record for her in the juvenile record of Kentucky and there's no record of her as a convicted felon or even a misdemeanor felon," he argued.
Lavit asked for a sentence of 13.5 years and said Coleman, "should be given a chance to rehabilitate her life."
After hearing arguments, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood said that though there was no evidence tying Coleman physically to the crimes, the circumstances of the crime outweighed the mitigating factors Lavit argued.
"There's no way that any of the defendants that were involved in this case can be separated from that psychological fear and cruelty that was inflicted upon this lady," Judge Blackwood said. "It is so horrific that this one factor in and of itself outweighs any mitigating factors that are presented on behalf of the defendant."
"This is a horrible crime. Horrible, senseless, cruel, every word that you can use to describe," he said.
Judge Blackwood then handed down the sentence for Coleman.
She was given 25 years in prison for facilitation of murder, six years total for two counts of facilitating kidnapping, and four years each for facilitation of anal, oral and vaginal rape with those sentences to be served concurrently.
"Consecutive sentences are necessary because the court finds the defendant is a dangerous offender and has no regard for human life and no hesitating about committing a crime in which the risk of human life is high," Blackwood said.
The sentences total 35 years in prison.
Coleman is required to serve 30 percent of her sentence, or 10.5 years.
Since she has already served six years in prison, she could be eligible for parole in as little as 4.5 years.
Vanessa Colemans Final Sentencing