George Thomas sentenced to life with chance of parole

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The jury sentenced George Thomas to life with parole for the murders of Channon Christian and Christoper Newsom. He'll be eligible for release in 45 years, since he's already served six years.

Around noon on Friday, jurors found him guilty on all charges. He sat emotionless while jurors returned guilty verdict after guilty verdict against him - 46 times in all.

Families of both Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom exchanged hugs afterwards.

In the week-long trial, prosecutors spent nearly three days laying out their case against Thomas before resting first thing Thursday morning.

Defense attorneys rested without calling a witness. They contends just because Thomas was present at the scene of the crime doesn't make him criminally responsible. Thomas says he was there, but in his bedroom high on marijuana the whole weekend.

At his first trial, Thomas was sentenced to life in prison without parole. This time, he has a chance to walk out of jail in 45 years.

Before the jury returned with that decision, they listened to Channon and Chris's parents, and saw pictures of the couple for the first time.

"She wanted to have a normal life with her own family," said Gary Christian.

But at just 21 years old, Channon's life was over. Gary Christian thinks about that everyday, and the four kids that she wanted to have.

"I'll never see my grandchildren," said Gary. "And I will never dance at her wedding."

Chris Newsom's parents described him on the stand as a Christian, baseball player and an artist.

"If I could have my son back for just a short period of time, to tell him how much I loved him, I'd give all the money I have," said Hugh Newsom.

Hugh Newsom told the jury that one week after Chris died, his mom found clothes he golfed in.

"And I said, 'Mary what are you going to do with that?' She said, 'I'm gonna do his laundry one more time,'" said Hugh.

George Thomas' mother also gave an impact statement before sentencing, hoping her son would get the chance to walk out of prison one day.
"Just let the Lord lead your heart. And I believe in God, and I believe that one day, that I will see my son. And I'm standing and believing on that because God is good," said Bridget Thomas.

George Thomas is 30 years old. He's already served six years, so he will be 75 when he's eligible for parole.

There is still one more court date on June 4. That's when the judge will decide on the sentence for the other charges of his involvement, and that could extend his time served.

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