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Woman convicted in Christian-Newsom murders denied parole

The Board of Parole has denied granting Coleman parole in the past.
Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 7:45 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2020 at 11:47 AM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Vanessa Coleman, the only woman to be convicted in the brutal murder of a Knox County couple in 2007 was denied parole Tuesday morning.

Coleman is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence set to end in 2036, officials said. The 32-year-old was convicted of facilitation of first-degree murder in the deaths of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.

The Board of Parole has also denied granting Coleman parole in the past.

Coleman appeared before the Board of Parole during a virtual hearing. Coleman told the board her account of what happened the night Christian and Newsom were murdered.

Coleman told officials she did not take part in the crimes and played no role in the murder, kidnapping or rape of the couple. Coleman said she was not aware of what was happening, but heard Channon say “stop, don’t.”

Coleman told the board she was scared to leave and ask for help. She claimed she was in as much danger as the victims.

Members of the board asked Coleman about her journal entries during the time of the crimes. Coleman continued to claim she had no hand in the crimes and the journal had nothing to do with it.

Coleman recounted seeing Channon being led into the house and then sitting blindfolded on a bed. Todd Childress, the lead investigator in the case, directly asked the board to deny Coleman’s parole. Childress said he believes she was involved in every aspect of the crime except for the carjacking.

He claimed Coleman was one of the “coldest 18-year-olds” he has ever spoken with.

Childress said “there’s no way” Coleman couldn’t have heard what happened to the couple. Chris Newsom’s father, Hugh Newsom, spoke to the board.

“Chris would have never idly stood by if the roles were reversed,” Newsom said.

Gary Christian also read a statement to the board and called Coleman a “liar” and “evil.” Mary Newsom, Chris’s mother and Deanna, Channon’s mother also gave statements to the board.

Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally spoke on behalf of the families and said Coleman should serve her full sentence. He said he will continue to speak to the board every time Coleman is up for parole.

KPD Chief Eve Thomas and District Attorney Charme Allen provided letters of opposition to Coleman’s parole.

During, her prison sentence Coleman has worked for a call center since 2014. Coleman said she has grown since the incident.

The seven members of the board voted unanimously to deny Coleman’s parole. The next hearing to review her case will be in 10 years.

In 2007, Coleman traveled from Kentucky to Knoxville with her then-boyfriend Letalvis Cobbins. The two stayed at a house on Chipman Street with LeMaricus Davidson. Cobbins, Davidson and Eric Boyd were involved in the carjacking of 21-year-old Channon Christian and 23-year-old Christopher Newsom on January 6, 2007.

That night, the group brought the young couple back to their home on Chipman Street. The group was involved in the attacks, rapes and torture that led to the death of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.

READ MORE: Timeline of the Christian-Newsom murders

Coleman was sentenced in May 2010 and chose not to make a statement to the court or the victim’s family. The jury found her guilty on all charges in connection to Channon Christian’s death, but not guilty in connection to Christopher Newsom’s murder.

She was sentenced to 53 years in prison by Judge Baumgartner. Coleman was granted a retrial after the discovery of Baumgartner’s drug abuse in 2011.

In 2012, a jury convicted Coleman on 13 of 17 counts in the murder of Christian. She was once again found not guilty for the crimes committed against Christopher Newsom. Coleman was then sentenced to 35 years in prison.

In 2014, Coleman was denied for parole.

Coleman’s father spoke to WVLT in 2010 in an exclusive interview after she was sentenced. He said he knew most people believed she was guilty but said he would continue to support her.

Gary Christian, the father of Channon Christian encouraged the community to ask the board to deny Coleman’s parole once again.

“Many of you wanted to send your thoughts to the Parole Board and I promised I would put the best way you could contact them and when the right time to contact them. Well now would be the time, her Parole hearing is set for December the 8th,” Christian said in a post on Facebook.

Many of you wanted to send your thoughts to the Parole Board and I promised I would put the best way you could contact...

Posted by Gary Christian on Tuesday, November 17, 2020

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