Christians and Newsoms pushing for bills to expand victims' rights

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The families of two Knoxville murder victims will head to Nashville Tuesday week to get support for bills to give victims a voice.

Hugh and Mary Newsom along with Gary and Deena Christian, are the parents of Chris and Channon, the young couple tortured and murdered here in Knoxville in 2007.

In 2008, five people were convicted for their roles in the murders. Then after an investigation, Judge Richard Baumgartner, who over saw the trials, was disbarred.

Two retrials were granted which came in 2012.

State leaders heard their cries. Representative Ryan Haynes and State Randy McNally filed two bills in honor of Chris and Channon.
Senate Bill 1796 would clarif a judge's role.

"When they jury returns a verdict and the judge says I accept, this bill clarifies that that judge has served as the 13th juror," Hugh Newsom told Local 8 News.

The bill is designed to prevent retrials.

Another problem the Newsoms said they faced. The Newsoms say during the trials, defense attorneys made false statements about their son.

"In the Davidson trial the two lawyers had no defense, so they decided to trash our kids."

Senate Bill 1797 would change that.

The changes have some momentum but the Newsoms say they can't make it happen alone.

"I would ask them to please contact all senators and representatives to vote for the Chris and Channon bills."

The bills are expected to be brought up sometime next week for discussion.

They will then be placed on the calendar for voting.

A matching bill is in the works that would also require judges to be randomly selected for drug test.

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